If the first element in the formation of an independent professional identity for watercolourists could be described as a negotiation between a new and ambitious faction of artists and an established elite, the character of the second strand of the project was more defensive. The negative associations attached to the medium as a result of its use in lower-status activities confirmed the prejudices of many in the Academy and elsewhere that watercolour practice itself was, if not irredeemably artisanal, then at least tainted; practitioners needed to be continually on their guard if their aspirations were not to be harmed, therefore. However, although it was clearly important for ambitious watercolourists to maintain a distinctive boundary between themselves and artisans, this was far from straight forward. There were considerable commercial pressures placed on practitioners to compromise their identity as independent and inventive artists, and, as with any other manufacturer of commodities, there was a temptation to reduce costs by employing processes of mass production, replication, and mechanisation. The use of such methods in order to increase productivity clearly ran counter to the insistence in professional discourse on the primacy of the unique artwork, and of the notion of a disinterested pursuit of excellence; consequently, as long as such strategies could not be hidden, they were a threat to status. Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the identity of the watercolourist as a fine artist was rarely entirely secure, and that in some cases it was ready to collapse into that of the artisan. This was particularly true because of the close involvement of watercolourists in the print trade, since this led many practitioners to adopt methods derived from reproductive printmaking. The idea that watercolourists, and not just the least successful, were often engaged in practices that were frankly artisanal has generally been ignored in art historical studies, and there has been a tendency to accept without question the claims of the profession to be engaged in a progressive and prestigious activity. However, if we are to understand 52why it was that these claims had to be made, it is important that we examine in detail the major source of anxiety that fuelled the professional project.