Art Union of London

RA Collection: People and Organisations

The Art Union of London was established in 1837, following the establishment of similar organisations in Edinburgh and Liverpool. It was an was an organisation which distributed works of art amongst its subscribers by lottery. It described its aim as being "to aid in extending the love of the Arts of Design, and to give Encouragement to Artists beyond that afforded by the patronage of individuals." (The Art-Union Journal. 1: 74. 1839).

Each member paid a subscription of one guinea a year. In return they all received a large engraving annually, said to be at least equal in value to their subscription. In addition they had the chance of winning a prize at a yearly draw, initially either a proof copy of that year's print, or a painting. The winners of Art Union of London prizes had a free choice of any painting, up to a given value, shown at any of the London exhibitions that year.

The Union was wound up following a resolution passed in 1912.

"The Art Union of London, 444 West Strand, was established in 1836, and incorporated in 1845; has for its object the cultivation of a purer taste in matters of the fine arts, and their general advancement in the British empire, by the encouragement of native artists and an improved taste on the part of the public. The annual subscription is one guinea, and each subscriber receives for that amount a fine engraving of some first-class painting, and also the chance of a prize picture or sculpture, value from £10 to £200, which is drawn for every April. There are upwards of 15,000 annual subscribers." [London Guide: a handbook for strangers, showing where to go, how to get there and what to look at. London: Published by G. F. Cruchley, mapseller & globe manufacturer, 1862.]

Works associated with Art Union of London in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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