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The AWS and the Women's Movement

1887 American Watercolor Program 1887 American Watercolor Catalog

1887 Catalog Cover

The Flag of Truce -
Frederic Remington from 1887 Catalog

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One of the first actions taken by the American Society of Painters in Water Color was to plan their first exhibition for 1867. It was held at The National Academy in conjunction with the Academy’s own winter exhibition of 1867-68.

The relatively young society profited hugely from the endorsement of the highly respected National Academy. It was the first truly watercolor exhibition in America. It opened on December 21, 1867, and remained open to the public for three months. Listed in the catalog of the show as members of the American Society of Painters in Water Color were the names of two women, Caroline P. Carson and Elizabeth Murray. In Ralph Fabri’s interesting history of the American Watercolor Society, he writes, “There were only a couple of women on this list, a fact which seems to have been held against the Society by a number of artists, when women began to fight for emancipation.” Nevertheless, there were a good number of famous artists whose names appear on those roles of former members. Winslow Homer, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Edward Hopper, William Merrit Chase, Thomas Eakins, Samuel Colman, Charles Burchfield, Gladys Rockmore Davis, Childe Hassam, John LaFarge, Alphonse Mucha, Edward Potthast, and Mahonri Young are a few of the past members mentioned in Fabri’s book. Surely, there were many others whose names would strike a note of great pride in all members, both past and present.