The first effort towards the establishment of the Royal Scottish Academy was an exhibition of paintings in 1808 held in Edinburgh. It was followed by occasional but irregular exhibitions of the works of Scottish artists in other years, until, in 1826, the Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture was established, which afterwards became the Royal Scottish Academy and received the Royal charter in 1838. Its first President was George Watson, who died in 1837. D. O. Hill, an early Secretary, held that position for upwards of forty years, resigning by reason of ill-health in 1869. Of the thirteen original members, Kenneth MacLeay, the last, died in 1878. The general plan of the institution is based upon and is similar to that of the Royal Academy of London. The meetings and exhibitions were held in the Royal Institution, Edinburgh, until the erection of its present home in the National Gallery of Scotland, the foundation-stone of which was laid by the Prince Consort in 1850.
While the larger portion of the works sent to the annual exhibitions of this Academy are the productions of native and resident Scottish artists, many of the choicest works of modern painters and sculptors of Great Britain and of other countries are also received. (Compiled late 1800's)