Before there were cameras, people documented how the world and its inhabitants looked like through paintings. Oil on canvas was the medium of choice because of its vivid colors and the durability of the medium itself. But starting from the 18th century, many European artists—both professional and amateur—began to prefer watercolors, especially those who liked to paint outdoors. The materials required to paint in watercolor can be easily carried in a compact carrying case. Additionally, watercolor pigments are so thin and transparent that it allows light to reflect from the supporting surface producing a glow that artists can utilize to capture the effects of light and weather in a way oil paints cannot. The only shortcoming is its durability.
View in the Serampore Road, Kolkata, India. 1848.