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|Location|| Piccadilly |
England, United Kingdom
|President||Christopher Le Brun|
|Public transit access|
The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. It has a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects. Its purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.
Burlington House is a building on Piccadilly in Mayfair, London. It was originally a private Palladian mansion owned by the Earl of Burlington and was expanded in the mid-19th century after being purchased by the British government.
Piccadilly is a road in the City of Westminster, London to the south of Mayfair, between Hyde Park Corner in the west and Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is part of the A4 road that connects central London to Hammersmith, Earl's Court, Heathrow Airport and the M4 motorway westward. St James's is to the south of the eastern section, while the western section is built up only on the northern side. Piccadilly is just under 1 mile (1.6 km) in length, and is one of the widest and straightest streets in central London.
The visual arts are art forms such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, filmmaking, and architecture. Many artistic disciplines involve aspects of the visual arts as well as arts of other types. Also included within the visual arts are the applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.
The Royal Academy of Arts was founded through a personal act of King George III on 10 December 1768 with a mission to promote the arts of design in Britain through education and exhibition. The motive in founding the Academy was twofold: to raise the professional status of the artist by establishing a sound system of training and expert judgement in the arts, and to arrange the exhibition of contemporary works of art attaining an appropriate standard of excellence. Supporters wanted to foster a national school of art and to encourage appreciation and interest among the public based on recognised canons of good taste.
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.
Fashionable taste in 18th-century Britain was based on continental and traditional art forms, providing contemporary British artists little opportunity to sell their works. From 1746 the Foundling Hospital, through the efforts of William Hogarth, provided an early venue for contemporary artists in Britain. The success of this venture led to the formation of the Society of Artists of Great Britain and the Free Society of Artists. Both these groups were primarily exhibiting societies; their initial success was marred by internal factions among the artists. The combined vision of education and exhibition to establish a national school of art set the Royal Academy apart from the other exhibiting societies. It provided the foundation upon which the Royal Academy came to dominate the art scene of the 18th and 19th centuries, supplanting the earlier art societies.
The Foundling Hospital in London, England, was founded in 1739 by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram. It was a children's home established for the "education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children." The word "hospital" was used in a more general sense than it is today, simply indicating the institution's "hospitality" to those less fortunate. Nevertheless, one of the top priorities of the committee at the Foundling Hospital was children's health, as they combated smallpox, fevers, consumption, dysentery and even infections from everyday activities like teething that drove up mortality rates and risked epidemics. With their energies focused on maintaining a disinfected environment, providing simple clothing and fare, the committee paid less attention to and spent less on developing children's education. As a result, financial problems would hound the institution for years to come, despite the growing "fashionableness" of charities like the hospital.
William Hogarth FRSA was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects", perhaps best known being his moral series A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".
The Society of Artists of Great Britain was founded in London in May 1761 by an association of artists in order to provide a venue for the public exhibition of recent work by living artists, such as was having success in the long-established Paris salons. Leading members seceded from the society in 1768, a move leading directly to the formation of the Royal Academy of Arts. The society was dissolved 1791 after years of decline.
The origin of the Royal Academy of Arts lies in an attempt in 1755 by members of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, principally the sculptor Henry Cheere, to found an autonomous academy of arts. Prior to this a number of artists were members of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, including Cheere and William Hogarth, or were involved in small-scale private art academies, such as the St Martin's Lane Academy. Although Cheere's attempt failed, the eventual charter, called an 'Instrument', used to establish the Royal Academy of Arts over a decade later was almost identical to that drawn up by Cheere in 1755.
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) is a London-based, British organisation committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges. Founded in 1754 by William Shipley as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, it was granted a Royal Charter in 1847, and the right to use the term Royal in its name by King Edward VII in 1908. The shorter version, The Royal Society of Arts and the related RSA acronym, are used more frequently than the full name.
Sir Henry Cheere, 1st Baronet was a renowned English sculptor and monumental mason of the eighteenth century, and older brother of John Cheere, also a notable sculptor.
The St Martin's Lane Academy, a precursor of the Royal Academy, was organised in 1735 by William Hogarth, from the circle of artists and designers who gathered at Slaughter's Coffee House at the upper end of St Martin's Lane, London. The artistic set that introduced the Rococo style to England was centred on "Old Slaughter's" and the drawing-classes at the St. Martin's Lane Academy were inextricably linked in the dissemination of new artistic ideas in England in the reigns of George II and George III.
It was Sir William Chambers, a prominent architect and head of the British government's architects' department, the Office of Works, who used his connections with George III to gain royal patronage and financial support for the Academy in 1768. The painter Joshua Reynolds was made its first president, and Francis Milner Newton was elected the first secretary, a post he held for two decades until his resignation in 1788.
Sir William Chambers was a Scottish-Swedish architect, based in London. Among his best-known works are Somerset House, London, and the pagoda at Kew. Chambers was a founder member of the Royal Academy.
The Office of Works was established in the English Royal household in 1378 to oversee the building of the royal castles and residences. In 1832 it became the Works Department forces within the Office of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings. It was reconstituted as a government department in 1851 and became part of the Ministry of Works in 1940.
Sir Joshua Reynolds was an English painter, specialising in portraits. John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the "Grand Style" in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769.
The instrument of foundation, signed by George III on 10 December 1768, named 34 founder members and allowed for a total membership of 40. The founder members were Reynolds, John Baker, George Barret, Francesco Bartolozzi, Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Augustino Carlini, Charles Catton, Mason Chamberlin, William Chambers, Francis Cotes, George Dance, Nathaniel Dance, Thomas Gainsborough, John Gwynn, Francis Hayman, Nathaniel Hone the Elder, Angelica Kauffman, Jeremiah Meyer, George Michael Moser, Mary Moser, Francis Milner Newton, Edward Penny, John Inigo Richards, Paul Sandby, Thomas Sandby, Dominic Serres, Peter Toms, William Tyler, Samuel Wale, Benjamin West, Richard Wilson, Joseph Wilton, Richard Yeo, Francesco Zuccarelli. William Hoare and Johann Zoffany were added to this list later by the King and are known as nominated members. Among the founder members were two women, a father and daughter, and two sets of brothers.
John Baker (1726–1771) was an English flowerpainter.
Francesco Bartolozzi was an Italian engraver, whose most productive period was spent in London. He is noted for popularising the "crayon" method of engraving.
Giovanni Battista Cipriani was an Italian painter and engraver, who lived in England from 1755. He is also called Giuseppe Cipriani by some authors. Much of his work consisted of designs for prints, many of which were engraved by his friend Francesco Bartolozzi.
The Royal Academy was initially housed in cramped quarters in Pall Mall, although in 1771 it was given temporary accommodation for its library and schools in Old Somerset House, then a royal palace. In 1780 it was installed in purpose-built apartments in the first completed wing of New Somerset House, designed by Chambers, located in the Strand and designed by Chambers, the Academy's first treasurer. The Academy moved in 1837 to Trafalgar Square, where it occupied the east wing of the recently completed National Gallery (designed by another Academician, William Wilkins). These premises soon proved too small to house both institutions. In 1868, 100 years after the Academy's foundation, it moved to Burlington House, Piccadilly, where it remains. Burlington House is owned by the British Government, and used rent-free by the Royal Academy.[ citation needed ]
The first Royal Academy exhibition of contemporary art, open to all artists, opened on 25 April 1769 and ran until 27 May 1769. 136 works of art were shown and this exhibition, now known as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, has been staged annually without interruption to the present day. In 1870 the Academy expanded its exhibition programme to include a temporary annual loan exhibition of Old Masters, following the cessation of a similar annual exhibition at the British Institution. The range and frequency of these loan exhibitions have grown enormously since that time, making the Royal Academy a leading art exhibition institution of international importance.
Britain's first public lectures on art were staged by the Royal Academy, as another way to fulfil its mission. Led by Reynolds, the first president, a program included lectures by Dr. William Hunter, John Flaxman, James Barry, Sir John Soane, and J. M. W. Turner. The last three were all graduates of the RA School, which for a long time was the only established art school in the Royal Academy.
In 2018, the Academy's 250th anniversary, the results of a major refurbishment were unveiled. The project began on 1 January 2008 with the appointment of David Chipperfield Architects. Heritage Lottery Fund support was secured in 2012. On 19 October 2016 the RA's Burlington Gardens site was closed to the public and renovations commenced. The "New RA" was opened to the public on 19 May 2018. The £56 million development includes new galleries, a lecture theatre, a public project space for students and a bridge linking the Burlington House and Burlington Gardens sites. As part of the process 10,000 works from the RA's collection were digitised and made available online.
The Royal Academy does not receive financial support from the state or the Crown. Its income is from exhibitions, trust and endowment funds, receipts from its trading activities, and from the subscriptions of its Friends and corporate members. It also gains funds by sponsorship from commercial and industrial companies, in which the Academy was one of the pioneers.
One of its principal sources of revenue is hosting a programme of temporary loan exhibitions. These are comparable to those at the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery and leading art galleries outside the United Kingdom. In 2004 the highlights of the Academy's permanent collection went on display in the newly restored reception rooms of the original section of Burlington House, which are now known as the John Madejski Fine Rooms.
Under the direction of the former exhibitions secretary Norman Rosenthal, the Academy has hosted ambitious exhibitions of contemporary art. In its 1997 "Sensation," it displayed the collection of work by Young British Artists owned by Charles Saatchi. The show was controversial for its display of Marcus Harvey's portrait of Myra Hindley, a convicted murderer. The painting was vandalised while on display.
In 2004, the Academy attracted media attention for a series of financial scandals and reports of a feud between Rosenthal and other senior staff. These problems resulted in the cancellation of what were expected to have been profitable exhibitions.In 2006, it attracted the press by erroneously placing only the support for a sculpture on display, and then justifying it being kept on display.
The Academy also hosts an annual Royal Academy summer exhibition of new art, which is a well-known event on the London social calendar. In the 21st century it is considered less fashionable than in earlier centuries, and has been largely ignored by the Brit Artists and their patrons. [ citation needed ] But, Tracey Emin exhibited in the 2005 show. In March 2007 Emin accepted the Academy's invitation to become a Royal Academician, commenting in her weekly newspaper column that, "It doesn't mean that I have become more conformist; it means that the Royal Academy has become more open, which is healthy and brilliant."
Anyone who wishes may submit pictures for inclusion in the summer exhibition; those selected are displayed alongside the works of the Academicians. Many of the works are available for purchase.
In 1977 Sir Hugh Casson founded the Friends of the Royal Academy, a charity designed to provide financial support for the institution. Over the years the Friends scheme has grown in size and importance and by 2017 had more than 100,000 members.
Pin Drop Studio hosts live events where well-known authors, actors and thinkers read a short story chosen as a response to the main exhibition programme. The literary evenings are hosted by Pin Drop Studio founder Simon Oldfield. Guests have included Graham Swift, Sebastian Faulks, Lionel Shriver, William Boyd, Will Self, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Sian Phillips, Lisa Dawn and Ben Okri.
The RA and Pin Drop Short Story Award is an open submission writing prize, held annually along similar principles of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The award ceremony features a live reading of the winning story in its entirety by a special guest. Past winning stories have been read by Stephen Fry, Dame Penelope Wilton, Juliet Stevenson and Gwendoline Christie.
Regular sponsorship income comes from exhibitions and sponsorship of specific programmes.
On 8 December 2011, Christopher Le Brun was elected president of the Royal Academy on the retirement of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw. In September 2007, Sir Charles Saumarez Smith became Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy, a newly created post.Saumarez Smith stepped down from the role at the end of 2018, and it was announced that Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, would fill the position from June 2019.
In March 2014, critic and broadcaster Tim Marlow was appointed the Royal Academy's Artistic Director.
The Royal Academy Schools form the oldest art school in Britain. They offer a three-year postgraduate art course to students.
The Royal Academy Schools was the first institution to provide professional training for artists in Britain. The Schools' programme of formal training was modelled on that of the French Académie de peinture et de sculpture, founded by Louis XIV in 1648. It was shaped by the precepts laid down by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In his fifteen Discourses delivered to pupils in the Schools between 1769 and 1790, Reynolds stressed the importance of copying the Old Masters, and of drawing from casts after the Antique and from the life model. He argued that such a training would form artists capable of creating works of high moral and artistic worth. Professorial chairs were founded in Chemistry, Anatomy, Ancient History and Ancient Literature, the latter two being held initially by Samuel Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith.
In 1769, the first year of operation, the Schools enrolled 77 students. By 1830 over 1,500 students had enrolled in the Schools, giving an average intake of 25 students each year. They included men such as John Flaxman, J. M. W. Turner, John Soane, Thomas Rowlandson, William Blake, Thomas Lawrence, Decimus Burton,John Constable, George Hayter, David Wilkie, William Etty and Edwin Landseer. The term of studentship was at first six years. This was increased to seven years in 1792 and to ten in 1800; it remained at ten till 1853. These figures must be regarded, however, only as years of eligibility. Likely many of the students did not complete their full term, but there are no records of attendance and termination of studentships from the early years.
Professors and Royal Academician "Visitors" taught through a series of lectures. Royal Academicians, practising artists, were elected as Visitors, and served in rotation for nine months of the year. Each Visitor attended for a month, setting the models and examining and instructing the performances of the students. This system lasted into the late 1920s, when Visitors were replaced with permanent teachers.
The first woman to enrol as a student of the Schools was Laura Herfordin 1860. Three more women enrolled in 1861, with an additional three in 1862.
Today some 60 students study in the Schools on a three-year postgraduate course. The programme is focused on studio-based practice across all fine art media. The studios accommodate a wide variety of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, print, installation, and time-based and digital media. Selection of candidates is based on evidence of individual ability and commitment, with an emphasis on potential for further development across the three-year course. Students are given the opportunity twice each year to show their work in the Royal Academy.
In 2011 Tracey Emin was appointed Professor of Drawing,and Fiona Rae was appointed Professor of Painting – the first women professors to be appointed in the history of the Academy. Emin was succeeded by Michael Landy, and then David Remfry in 2016 while Rae was succeeded by Chantal Joffe in January 2016.
The Academy has received many gifts and bequests of objects and money. Many of these gifts were used to establish Trust Funds to support the work of the Royal Academy Schools by providing "Premiums" to students displaying excellence in various artistic genre. The rapid changes in 20th-century art left some of the classifications of the older prize funds as somewhat anachronistic. But efforts are made to award each prize to a student producing work that bears a relation to the intentions of the original benefactor.
The Royal Academy has an important collection of books, archives and works of art accessible for research and display. A large part of these collections have been digitised and can be investigated through the Collection website.
The first president of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, gave his noted self-portrait, beginning the Royal Academy collection. This was followed by gifts from other founding members, such as Gainsborough and Benjamin West. Subsequently each elected Member was required to donate an artwork (known as a "Diploma Work") typical of his or her artistic output, and this practice continues today. Additional donations and purchases have resulted in a collection of approximately a thousand paintings and a thousand sculptures, which show the development of a British School of art. The Academy's collection of works on paper includes significant holdings of drawings and sketchbooks by artists working in Britain from the mid-18th century onwards, including George Romney, Lord Leighton and Dame Laura Knight, as well as a large collection of engravings after the Old Masters, prints after all the leading British artists of the 18th and 19th centuries, and a growing collection of original prints by current academicians.
The library of the Royal Academy is the oldest institutional fine art library in Britain. For more than 200 years it has served the needs of students and teachers in the Academy Schools and provided an important source for the history of British art and architecture. The library contains some 65,000 books, including an historic book collection of approximately 12,000 volumes, acquired before 1920, reflecting the early teaching philosophy of the Academy Schools. The archive forms one of the world's most significant resources for the historical study of British art since 1768.
The photographic collection consists of photographs of Academicians, landscapes, architecture and works of art. Holdings include early portraits by William Lake Price dating from the 1850s, portraits by David Wilkie Wynfield and Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion (1872–85). In addition, there are over 55,000 photographs relating to the history of the Academy, from views of exhibition installations to images of the Academy's homes and its staff.
Among the paintings decorating the walls and ceilings of the building are those of Benjamin West and Angelica Kauffman, in the entrance hall (Hutchison 1968, p. 153), moved from the previous building at Somerset House. In the centre is West's roundel The Graces unveiling Nature c. 1779, surrounded by panels depicting the elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. At each end are mounted two of Kauffman's circular paintings, Composition at the West end, and Painting or Colour and Genius or Invention at the East end.
The most prized possession of the Academy's collection is Michelangelo's Taddei Tondo , left to the Academy by Sir George Beaumont. The Tondo is usually on display in the Collection Gallery, which opened in May 2018. Carved in Florence in 1504–06, it is the only marble by Michelangelo in the United Kingdom and represents the Virgin Mary and child with the infant St John the Baptist.
In the entrance portico are two war memorials. One is in memory of the students of the Royal Academy Schools who fell in World War I and the second commemorates the 2,003 men of the Artists Rifles who gave their lives in that war with a further plaque to those who died in World War II.
The Artists Rifles, founded in 1860, had its first headquarters at Burlington House. Four members of the Artists Rifles were elected president of the Royal Academy.
Membership of the Royal Academy is composed of up to 80 practising artists, each elected by ballot of the General Assembly of the Royal Academy, and known individually as Royal Academicians (RA, or more traditionally as R.A.). The Royal Academy is governed by these Royal Academicians. The 1768 Instrument of Foundation allowed total membership of the Royal Academy to be 40 artists. The category of Associate Member of the Royal Academy (ARA, traditionally as A.R.A.) was introduced in 1769 to provide a means of preselecting suitable candidates to fill future vacancies among Academicians.[ citation needed ] Originally engravers were completely excluded from the academy, but at the beginning of 1769 the category of Associate-Engraver was created. Their number was limited to six, and unlike other associates, they could not be promoted to full academicians, In 1853 membership of the Academy was increased to 42, and opened to engravers. In 1922, 154 years after the founding of the Royal Academy, Annie Swynnerton became the first woman ARA.
The number of Royal Academicians was increased once again in 1972 to 50, and in 1991 the maximum was set at 80. All Academicians must be professionally active, either wholly or partly, in the United Kingdom. Of the 80 Academicians, there must always be at least 14 sculptors, 12 architects and 8 printmakers with the balance being painters. Associate membership was abolished in 1991.
In 1918, it was decided that all Academicians and Associates on reaching the age of 75 would become members of a Senior Order of Academicians, thereby creating a vacancy in the other categories of membership. A senior member is effectively retired from the day-to-day government of the Academy but retains all other membership privileges. All RAs are entitled to exhibit up to six works in the annual Summer Exhibition. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work in small exhibitions held in the Friends' Room and are occasionally invited to hold major exhibitions in the Sackler Galleries. Many Academicians are involved in teaching in the schools and giving lectures as part of the Royal Academy Education Programme.
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Mary Moser was an English painter and one of the most celebrated women artists of 18th-century Britain. One of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, Moser painted portraits but is particularly noted for her depictions of flowers.
The Summer Exhibition is an open art exhibition held annually by the Royal Academy in Burlington House, Piccadilly in central London, England, during the months of June, July, and August. The exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models, and is the largest and most popular open exhibition in the United Kingdom.
The Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) is an artist-based and artist-oriented institution in Ireland, founded in Dublin in 1823.
Ozias Humphry was a leading English painter of portrait miniatures, later oils and pastels, of the 18th century. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1791, and in 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King.
John Callcott Horsley RA, was an English Academic painter of genre and historical scenes, illustrator, and designer of the first Christmas card. He was a member of the artist's colony in Cranbrook.
The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) is the country’s national academy of art. It promotes contemporary Scottish art.
The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists or RBSA is an art society, based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, England, where it owns and operates an art gallery, the RBSA Gallery, on Brook Street, just off St Paul's Square. It is both a registered charity, and a registered company.
Thomas Webster, was a British painter of genre scenes of school and village life, many of which became popular through prints. He lived for many years at the artists' colony at Cranbrook in Kent.
The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) is a Canadian arts-related organization that was founded in 1880.
Fiona Rae is a Hong Kong-born British artist. She is one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) who rose to prominence in the 1990s. Throughout her career, she has been known for having a portfolio of work that includes elements of energy, and complexity. Her work is known for aiming at expanding the modern traditions of painting.
Julian Otto Trevelyan was an English artist and poet.
Eileen Cooper is an English contemporary painter and printmaker, who makes stylised paintings of women or couples, often featuring unexpected animals. She was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, and studied at Goldsmiths College, London from 1971 to 1974 and the Royal College of Art, London from 1974 to 1977.
John Aldridge, was an accomplished oil painter, skilled draftsman, wallpaper designer, and esteemed art teacher in the United Kingdom. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1954 and a Royal Academician (RA) in 1963.
William Bowyer RA was a British portrait and landscape painter, who worked in a traditional manner.
Henry Thomson RA was an English artist and Royal Academician who became Keeper of the Royal Academy.
The Society of Women Artists (SWA) is a British art body dedicated to celebrating and promoting fine art created by women.
Charles Landseer was an English painter, mostly of historical subjects.
Olwyn Bowey RA is a British artist.
Leonard William Joseph McComb was an English artist. He described his work as visual abstractions after nature. He was very interested in the detail in nature and declared that everything he drew or painted, whether a portrait head, flower, landscape, still life, or breaking sea wave, was, for him, a portrait.
Anthony WhishawRA is an English artist and member of the Royal Academy. Whishaw claims no association with any particular art movement, stating instead that "each painting and work on paper makes its own separate demands". He is also a member of The London Group.