Philadelphia Water Color Society


With a goal to elevate watercolor and dignify its art in a world in which oil and sculpture dominated art exhibitions, a group of acclaimed artists founded the Philadelphia Water Color Club in 1900.

In March of 1922, the Philadelphia Water Color Club was chartered.  Watercolor, frequently named “Freshness”, became a medium artists could use with confidence and energy.

In 1999, due to the changing nature and international scope of the exhibitions, a decision was made to change the name to better reflect the organization.  On January 15, 2000, the new name “Philadelphia Water Color Society” was formally implemented.


A Purchase Fund endowment was established in 1928 by Mrs. J. Bertram Lippincott, “which provides income to be used by the Water Color Club to purchase exhibitions works in Water Color and the Graphics Arts for its Permanent Collection.”

Annual juried International Works on Paper exhibitions were held yearly accepting watercolor prints and drawings together with miniatures that were printed in the catalogs. Exhibitions were held at PAFA until 1969 after which they were held in a variety of locations, such as Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia Civic Center, Woodmere, Port of History Museum, Franklin Plaza and the First Bank of USA.

Yearly exhibitions of members’ works developed to national importance. A collection of watercolors, drawings and prints created became part of a distinguished collection of 159 works donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Among the artists represented are: Thornton Oakley, Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, Joseph Pennell, Howard Pyle, John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, Pablo Picasso and Edward Hopper.


In 1990, the members voted to expand the scope of membership by offering Associate Membership to the general public and opened its juried annual juried International Works on Paper to all artists who work on paper.  

Today members receive a publication, PWCS Half Sheet, three times a year providing information on Board Members, a calendar including upcoming exhibits, the Annual Members’ Meeting, watercolor demonstrations and  workshops.

Currently PWCS has over 600 distinguished members, many are frequent award winners in major national and regional exhibitions.  Many members have authored books or have been featured artists in books and magazines nationally. The Philadelphia Water Color Society is proud of its heritage and contribution to the visual arts.  As the Society continues to grow and celebrates over 100 years of excellence, we look to continuing the tradition and vision established by the founders and to being an important part of the Philadelphia art community.

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