National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Britain's Royal Academy of Art in the Late 1700s and Early 1800s

Overview | Start Tour

image of Lady Caroline Howard image of Mrs. Alexander Blair
7 8
« back to British painting


On 2 January 1769, under the patronage of King George III, the Royal Academy met for its first session. The official title of this elite institution is "Royal Academy in London for the Purpose of Cultivating and Improving the Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture," but artists, then and now, simply call it "The R.A." The painters among the R.A.'s founding members were its first president, Sir Joshua Reynolds; the portraitist Thomas Gainsborough; the landscapist Richard Wilson; and Benjamin West, a colonial American who became president upon Reynolds' death in 1792.



1John Crome, Moonlight on the Yare, c. 1816/1817
2Thomas Gainsborough, Seashore with Fishermen, c. 1781/1782
3Thomas Gainsborough, Mountain Landscape with Bridge, c. 1783/1784
4Thomas Gainsborough, Miss Catherine Tatton, 1786
5Sir Henry Raeburn, David Anderson, 1790
6Sir Henry Raeburn, Miss Eleanor Urquhart, c. 1793
7Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lady Caroline Howard, 1778
8George Romney, Mrs. Alexander Blair, 1787-1789