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The History of the Royal Academy Rosalind Whyte Monday 24 February 2020

Venue: The Walton Suite, Guildhall, Winchester SO23 9GH

Time:   10:00 for coffee, lectures 10:30 – 15:00

Cost:    £40 (includes coffee/tea, buffet lunch and a glass of wine)

NB: This is the first in a series of three Study Days to be held by The Arts Society Hants & IoW Area in the spring of 2020.

Lecture 1) The Beginnings

This session will explore some of the key figures involved in the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1768, including the first President, Sir Joshua Reynolds and the first Treasurer Sir William Chambers, who also designed the RA’s first permanent premises, at Somerset House.

Lecture 2) The Impact of the Royal Academy

The next session moves into the 19th Century, the change of location to its current home at Burlington House and to some of the outstanding Royal Academicians such as Turner and Constable. Other artists have taken a more oppositional stance to the RA, such as Gainsborough and the (initially) clandestine Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of young rebel artists who sought to subvert the Academy from within.  

Lecture 3) The Royal Academy Today

The final session will explore further controversies, the many colourful characters and the position of women within the RA.  In conclusion, the RA’s history will be brought right up to date and examined how it has adapted to change over the years and the extent to which it has embraced the contemporary art scene.

Reading List

James Fenton, School of Genius 2006, Royal Academy

Sidney C Hutchison, The History of the Royal Academy 1986, Robert Royce

Charles Saumarez Smith, The Company of Artists: The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London 2012, Bloomsbury / Modern Art Press

David H Solkin (ed), Art on the Line, The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836 2001, Courtauld Institute Gallery (exhibition catalogue)

Rosalind Whyte

Rosalind has a BA and MA from Goldsmith’s College, and an MA (distinction) from Birkbeck College. She is an experienced guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Royal Academy and Greenwich. She also lectures at the Tate and Dulwich Picture Gallery, as well as to independent art societies and on cruises.  Rosalind leads art appreciation holidays.

To book, contact Marilyn Wright on 01256 322661 or email