Difficult Beginning ? The Early Years of the Royal Academy of Arts in London

Abstract : The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in London on December 10th 1768, after a long and arduous process of academic establishment. Its early days were difficult and uncertain: the legitimacy and rule of royal academicians was questioned by artists who had been excluded from the newly-created institution, which instead of figuring as a collaborative venture of the artistic community, had clearly been established by the former Directors of the Society of Artists of Great Britain - to the detriment of their former fellow artists. Since the Royal Academy built upon the system of annual public art exhibitions, which had become a defining feature of London cultural life since 1760, it had to advertise its exhibitions alongside those organised by other artists' societies. As there exist very few official sources on the rift that was caused in the artistic community by the foundation of the Royal Academy, these advertisements are worth studying. They not only allow us to trace the continuing struggle between Royal Academicians and their opponents, they also brought the aims of artists from both sides in the public sphere. Press advertisements show how royal academicians managed to establish their rule and authority by emphasising the royal nature and national purpose of the Royal Academy, and by presenting it as the only liberal academic body - thus drawing upon a centuries-old tradition.
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Isabelle Baudino. Difficult Beginning ? The Early Years of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Etudes Anglaises, Klincksieck, 2013, 66/3, pp.181-194. ⟨halshs-00917808⟩

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