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The Royal Academy of Arts:
History and Collections

Robin Simon, MaryAnne Stevens

Price
£75
Type
Print
Publicaton Date
May 2018
Standard Number
9780300232073
Distributor
Yale University Press
Specifications
680 pages, 290 x 248 mm
Illustrations
550 colour

This book is published to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. It tells the history of the Royal Academy from an unprecedented study of its great collections made possible by the first full catalogue initiated in 2008. The basis of those collections is the array of works presented by Academicians upon election, the Diploma Works, but many other works of art and objects of all kinds have been presented to the Academy. Together they offer a unique resource for the study of the history of art in Britain over the last two-and-half centuries. 

Animated by an unprecedented study of its collections, this book tells the story of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and illuminates the history of art in Britain over the past two and a half centuries. Thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and engravings, as well as silver, furniture, medals, and historic photographs, make up this monumental collection, featured here in stunning illustrations, and including an array of little-studied works of art and other objects of the highest quality. The works of art complement an archive of 600,000 documents and the first library in Britain dedicated to the fine arts. This fresh history reveals the central role of the Royal Academy in British national life, especially during the 19th century. It also explores periods of turmoil in the 20th century, when the Academy sought either to defy or to come to terms with modernism, challenging linear histories and frequently held notions of progress and innovation.

This fresh history reveals the central role of the Royal Academy in national life, especially in the nineteenth century, as well as its periods of turmoil in the twentieth century when it sought either to defy or to come to terms with modernism. Throughout, Academicians continued to produce works of the highest quality. The story is taken up to the present day in this readable and accessible book, which challenges frequently held assumptions and offers a host of surprises.

This book is published in association with the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

About the authors

  • Robin Simon

    Honorary Professor of English at UCL, Editor of The British Art Journal, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

  • MaryAnne Stevens

    Independent Art Historian and Curator