PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --The most comprehensive exhibition in more than 40 years of the American watercolor movement is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The exhibition is called American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent, and it explores America's fast-growing fascination with the art of watercolor painting from the mid-19th to early 20th century.
"It's the story of how American artists and the American public fell in love with watercolor painting," said Kathleen Foster, curator of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It was right after the Civil War when Americans first started to think of watercolor as more than just an amateur hobby.
"By the time we get to the earliest 20th century, the critics are calling watercolor the American medium," said Foster.
The collection features about 175 watercolors, but there are also ceramics and materials that the artists used to create their works.
"It's a series of treasures that have been very reluctantly leant from many different museums," Foster said. "Gathering them together like this is really a once in a lifetime moment."
The exhibition features more than 90 artists in all, and some famous names including Thomas Eakins and Georgia O'Keefe
"She was such an experimenter in watercolor and we have two pictures by her that show her painting in this adventuresome way," Foster said.
It also features other, lesser-known artists like West Philadelphia-born Edwin Austin Abbey.
"His picture called the Old Song is I just, I think a dreamy painting," Foster said.
But it was Winslow Homer who was elevated to star status.
"He was really one of the innovators of the movement," Foster said.
And the show features a number of his works, including one of his most famous pictures, After the Hurricane.
He shares top billing with John Singer Sargent who painted more than 2000 watercolors in his career, including the much-loved Muddy Alligators.
"I think you'll see in the show how diverse watercolor is," said Foster. "From very splashy and broad to very fine and detailed and realistic."
American Watercolor is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until May 14th.
For tickets and show times visit TheArtsinPhilly.org.