Our Spring Summer 2013 show invitations contained miniature water colour paint sets, by British art materials brand Winsor and Newton. The Winsor and Newton brand heritage is entwined with the history and development of water colour, and they have shared the story with us as part of our celebration of colour in the run up to our London Fashion Week show.
The History of Water Colour
The first use of Gum Arabic was in pre-historic times when early man was quick to recognise the possible uses of the natural materials around him. It’s unclear whether it was gums or oils which were first used in cave and body painting.
William Winsor and Henry Newton, both painters and chemists invented and introduced the first moist water colours to the world in 1832: water colour paint was balanced to be moist enough that it could be lifted by the application of a wet brush. The secret ingredient was glycerine and this invention set Winsor and Newton onto the path of international fame and reputation for their Artists’ Water Colours, which remains to this day in the eponymous brand they formed together.
The impact on painters was tangible, they were able to now paint by simply wetting the brush!
The metal tube now used for Winsor and Newton water colours had been invented in the first half of the nineteenth century by an American oil painter. Having secured the patent for manufacture, William Winsor invented the screw cap and the paint tube as we know it was born. Water colour in tubes allowed and still does, for stronger washes in larger quantities, made up in a shorter time than is possible from pans.
Thanks to the automotive and plastics industries the permanence and range of pigments available by the late 20th century surpassed the choice of the past beyond comprehension.
Thirty five new colours were introduced, seeing the greatest change to Artists’ Water Colour for 164 years. These colours are stronger, brighter and offer the degree of permanence historically only available in oil colour. Today, water colour has benefited from even further advancements in pigment technology and production methods. This has enabled the modern Winsor and Newton brand to produce even brighter, more transparent and more stable colours.