The Genesis of Modern Drawing Paper

It has been claimed that in the 18th C. English Paper Makers succeeded in manufacturing more suitable paper for watercolour painting than their continental counterparts,  enabling British Artists to steal a march in this art of half a century over foreign artists.  It is natural then to ask, is this claim in any way connected with the introduction of wove paper during the last decades of the 18th C.? If true, this claim could apply, in theory, equally to paper used for  drawings. In fact, if one buys a sheet of drawing paper today, one usually finds it to be wove in character.

Appendix V of the book examines the state of the art of drawing in England compared to France. In contrast to the latter, the dissolution of the monasteries in England had brought the art of drawing to a standstill. This had not passed unnoticed and steps were taken at the end of the 17th C. to rectify this deficiency. These gathered momentum such that by the second half of the 18th C. the standard of drawing among artisans and artists had recovered and improved greatly.

It has been shown (Chapter I) that improvements in the quality of wove paper resulted in an ideal surface for drawing and watercolour painting. Appendix V examines the penetration of this new product into the draughtsmen's and artists' markets, initially a steady but not spectacular entry. This situation was probably governed by difficulties in the production and availability of the new paper tempered, perhaps, by the conservative nature of some artists. The artists' market, however, would have been very small compared to the draughtmen's use in engineering, surveying, etc. This investigation is carried out as far as the mid-19th century, by which time drawing offices and artists' colourmen requirements, swayed by the fashions of the Age of Recipe, were determining the product range of the dwindling number of paper mills still specialising in these classes of paper. Smooth, fine-grained papers were preferred by draughtsmen in contrast to the greater variety of surfaces and textures demanded by artists, exemplified here by a study of actual usage.

There is an extract from Appendix V on this site.