The Royal Academy of Arts, or RA, has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.
The Academy was founded by George III in 1768. The 34 founding Members were a group of prominent artists and architects including Sir Joshua REYNOLDS and Sir William CHAMBERS who were determined to achieve professional standing for British art and architecture. They also wanted to provide a venue for exhibitions that would be open to the public; and to establish a school of art through which their skills and knowledge could be passed to future generations of practitioners.
One of the founding principles of the RA was to 'mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit' to finance the training of young artists in the RA Schools. Now known as the Summer Exhibition and held every year without interruption since 1769, the exhibition attracts around 10,000 works, the selection being carried out by Academicians chaired by the President.
The RA continues to fulfil its founders’ aims by mounting a continuous programme of internationally-acclaimed loan exhibitions, supported by extensive education programmes, seminars and debates. The Main Galleries and The Sackler Wing of Galleries host a variety of major exhibitions from all periods and art forms. The RA owns a major collection of works by Royal Academicians past and present together with the oldest and one of the best fine-art libraries in Britain.
The Academy's art school (it is known as 'The Schools' because each 'School' originally corresponded to a different element in the training of the artists that had to be mastered in a particular order) is the oldest in Britain. Past students include many famous British artists such as William Blake, JMW TURNER, Edwin Landseer, JE Millais and, more recently, John HOYLAND, Sir Anthony Caro, Sir Terry FROST and Sandra BLOW. Today, 60 students study drawing, painting and printmaking on a three-year postgraduate course - the only such course currently available in Britain.
The Royal Academy of Arts is a registered charity under Registered Charity Number 1125383 and is also registered as a company limited by guarantee in England & Wales under Company Number 6298947. Registered office: Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD