On this day – 10th December

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.

Image credit: http://www.livingit.euronews.com/2018/06/26/inside-the-royal-academy-of-arts-grand-refurbishment

The Royal Acadamy of Arts Facts:

Location: Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

History: Originating as a mansion house and later becoming the Royal Academy of Arts. Built after 1660 for Sir John Denham, completed 1668.

Constructed from: The house is brick, Portland stone, and stucco lined as ashlar.

Redesigned: It was remodelled, with courtyard buildings and screen added (demolished), in 1708-15. Subsequent works include: 1715-22 re-fronting and interior remodelling, a triumphal arch (demolished), added by Colen Campbell. after 18th century interior work and extensions by John Carr for the Duke of Portland; 1815-18 remodelling and extensions by Samuel Ware for Lord George Cavendish.

Purchased by Government: 1854

As the Acadamy of Arts: 1867 -70 the Main Galleries and Schools were added by Sydney Smirke for the Royal Academy of Arts; this was followed in 1872 by the Diploma Galleries and portico arcade, and Keeper’s House of 1874, all by Smirke; 1876 interior alterations were carried out by E.M. Barry. In 1880-85, extensions and modifications were made by R. Norman Shaw; 1899-1900 Entrance Hall by T.G. Jackson; 1927 Library by Curtis Green, 1985-6 Library by H.T. Cadbury-Brown. The 1989-91 Sackler Galleries and other works are by Norman Foster.

Historical note: In the early 20th century the building was the focus of a number of protests by suffragettes from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the militant suffrage organisation founded in Manchester in 1903. In 1913 WSPU members began a series of attacks on art galleries and museums in Britain. Suffragettes carrying flags and banners marched into the Royal Academy on 3rd June 1913 and attempted to hold an impromptu meeting in one of the galleries before being removed by police. The following week there was an unsuccessful arson attempt, thought to be the work of suffragettes. On 4th May 1914 a number of pictures were damaged in separate attacks by suffragettes; Mary Aldham used a butcher’s cleaver to slash Sargent’s picture of Henry James in No 3 Gallery, and Gertrude Ansell caused similar damage to a painting of the Duke of Wellington by von Herkomer. Ten days later, Maude Kate Smith damaged Clausen’s Primavera. As a result of these attacks galleries closed to the public for a short time, and women were stopped from taking in bags, umbrellas and muffs when they reopened.

Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy
Image credit: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2012/01/16/the-microcosm-of-london/drawing-from-life-at-the-royal-academy-2/

Information taken from Wikipedia – The Royal Acadamy of Arts updated 2nd December 2018.

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