Centuries of irreplaceable historical records are in danger of being lost forever, experts have warned, as they launch a campaign to preserve the watercolour paintings which documented the world before photography.
The online project will see 150 years of “unique and utterly irreplaceable” watercolour paintings digitised to save fragile and fading records of a pre-1900 world that has already disappeared.
The Watercolour World will invite major museums, galleries and ordinary members of the public to identify tens of thousands of “inaccessible” paintings, and counts the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall as its patrons.
The Prince, a watercolour artist himself, is so enamoured with the art form that he regularly takes an artist on overseas tours to capture the sights, while the Duchess attends regular art exhibitions and has been patron of the Public Catalogue Foundation.
The Watercolour World, launched today, is intended to meet the “urgent need” to save works that are “fragile, inaccessible and are increasingly being lost”.