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Council minutes

RA Collection: Archive

Reference code



Council minutes





Extent & medium

70 vols and files

Content Description

The minutes record meetings of the President and other members of the Council. The laws of the Royal Academy of Arts state that the Council ‘shall have the entire direction and management of all the business of the Society.’ The minutes were taken by the Secretary, who entered them by hand into the volumes of minutes. The record of each meeting is headed by a list of those in attendance. There are references to the election of Academicians and Associates and notes of the nomination by the Council of non-members to honorary offices, although in both cases the General Assembly was the elective body. The Council frequently discussed matters that had been referred to it by the General Assembly and likewise referred business to the General Assembly for further discussion or ratification. Occasional disputes arose over the relative powers of the two bodies, and these are reflected in the minutes: as, for instance, in 1803. Matters relating to the administration of the Schools figure prominently, including the names of students admitted, regulations concerning lectures, the administration of scholarships, the award of prizes (premiums), and disciplinary matters. There is much information relating to the finances of the institution including regular Treasurer’s accounts, lists of bills for payment and references to Auditors’ reports. There are regular entries relating to the distribution of charity fund pensions and donations. The records of donations consist of the name of the recipient and the amount awarded, and frequently, in the earlier volumes, descriptive information about the recipient and the name of the member or members making the recommendation. There are also references to bequests and donations made to the Royal Academy, in particular to the Chantrey Fund, the income from which became available in 1875. A very important part of the Council’s business, which features prominently in the minutes, is the passing of resolutions relating to the organisation of summer exhibitions, which commence with the foundation of the institution, and, from 1870, to winter (or loan) exhibitions. Note is also made of the reading and discussion in Council of reports of the Royal Academy’s various committees. Reports on inspections of property are cited and there are entries relating to building works and maintenance and, from 1879, to the reports of the Surveyor. Reference is made to the annual dinner and soirée, including lists of guests. Matters relating to the Library are noted, including the presentation of books. Other business includes the election of curators of the Sir John Soane Museum, London; the administration of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; requests from other institutions for the loan of diploma and Chantrey works; texts of addresses to royalty; and motions, copies of correspondence, memoranda and resolutions relating to the institution’s laws, the undertaking of special projects and matters of general administration.

Physical Characteristics

Vols 1-28 conserved and rebound, 2002-03. RAA/PC/1/29-40 (1952-1963) and RAA/PC/1/41-49 (1964-1972) conserved and bound as two volumes, 2005.

Associated Material

There is an index to the General Assembly and Council minutes for the period 1768-1868.