Watercolors by American artists are a particular collection strength, including examples by Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, John La Farge, Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, and Charles Burchfield.
The museum’s commitment to American drawings and watercolors dates back to the earliest years of Carnegie Institute and is tied to the interest of the museum’s first director, John W. Beatty. The early collection of American drawings and watercolors has significant resonance the Carnegie International exhibitions of this era, often reflecting a similar cast of artists and artistic taste. The first drawing acquired, in 1904, was Winslow Homer’s 1883 charcoal Figures on the Coast. This echoes the fact that Homer won the Chronological Medal at the first Carnegie International in 1896 with his painting The Wreck, which was subsequently the first painting purchased by the museum. Beatty added almost 200 drawings and watercolors by an array of prominent artists to the museum’s holdings by the end of his tenure as director in 1922, and the collection continued to grow throughout the century.