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Samuel Wale RA (1714 - 1786)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Samuel Wale was baptised in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1714. Little is known of his life prior to his arrival in London in 1735, when he was apprenticed to William Golbey, a goldsmith and engraver. Wale also attended the St Martin’s Lane Academy (founded in 1735), where his tutors included William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) and Francis Hayman (1708 - 1776).

Despite his training as an engraver, Wale styled himself as a painter. During the 1750s he worked with his former teacher Hayman on several decorative projects for buildings in the north of England. Wale also became a renowned book illustrator, producing over 400 original drawings.

Wale was heavily involved with efforts establish an artistic academy in London, culminating in the foundation of the Royal Academy. With the architect John Gwynn (1713 - 1786), Wale wrote ‘Proposals for erecting a public academy’ in 1749, while in 1755 he was part of a committee formed to found a ‘Royal Academy of London for the improvement of painting, sculpture and architecture’. He was prominent in the establishment of the Society of Artists, where he exhibited every year from 1760-1768.

Wale was a Founding Member of the Royal Academy, serving as the first Professor of Perspective. He exhibited annually at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition from 1769 until 1778 when he suffered a stroke. Unable to paint, he was supported by the Royal Academy’s benefit fund for Members incapable of work. In 1782 he became Librarian of the Royal Academy, a position reserved for artists who had fallen upon hard times. Wale died at his home near Leicester Square in 1786, leaving his possessions to Gwynn, his housemate, collaborator, and fellow Academician.


Royal Academician

Foundation Member

Born: 1714 in Great Yarmouth

Died: 6 February 1786

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 10 December 1768

Librarian: 14 June 1782 - 6 February 1786

Professor of Perspective: 1768 - 1786

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting and Illustration

Works after Samuel Wale in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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