The private view by Thomas Rowlandson

A BADA guide to the care of antique watercolours.

Hanging watercolours

Location requires very careful consideration before hanging antique watercolours.

Watercolours are highly susceptible to fading as well as problems caused by damp.

Conversely, you should never hang watercolours near a heat source, such as a radiator or working fireplace.

If possible, they should be placed away from direct sunlight which causes watercolours to bleach.

Never hang a watercolour on the interior of the outside wall of a building.

The low temperature can cause condensation and promote mould growth within the frame.

Be sure to avoid hanging or storing watercolours in damp areas, like basements or attics, to prevent foxing.


Restoring antique watercolours

Foxing is the ugly brown staining which appears on watercolours that have been exposed to high humidity.

The effect is generally caused by mould growing on acidic paper or when metallic particles from the paper making process become embedded in the papers' fibres.

In some cases foxing can be eradicated by the work of a professional conservator.

However, there is no remedy for fading in antique watercolours, caused by exposure to direct sunlight.

Traditional household solutions such as cleaning with breadcrumbs or repairing with adhesive tape will only cause further damage.

Framing advice

Poor quality framing and mounting are the primary causes of damage to works of art.

It is advisable to have your watercolours mounted on acid-free board, by a professional art restorer.

BADA recommend using Museum Board as a mount, which is made of 100% cotton fibre.

If in doubt, consult a BADA watercolour specialist who will be able to recommend an experienced framing professional.


To browse a selection of watercolour paintings click here

For dealers who specialise in watercolours click here

For advice on caring for antique Oil Paintings click here

For advice on caring for antique Drawings click here

For BADA recommended specialists in packing and shipping antiques and fine art click here