Transparent paint made from powdered pigment bound with gum Arabic and thinned with water in use. The term usually refers to a type of painting where the paint has been applied in washes onto specially prepared white or light coloured paper. It is the light reflecting back from the paper through the colour that gives watercolour its special luminous quality. More generally the term can be used to describe any paint mixed with a medium soluble in water.

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Queen Elizabeth I
by Nicholas Hilliard
NPG 108

Charles Rousseau Burney
by Edward Francisco Burney
circa 1775-1780
NPG 1860

Edward Francisco Burney
by Edward Francisco Burney
circa 1785-1800
NPG D14387

Claudine de Begnis (née Ronzi)
by Alfred Edward Chalon
circa 1823
NPG 1328

John Ruskin
by Sir Hubert von Herkomer
NPG 1336

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