Recent research reveals how the Royal Academy’s founding artists worked amidst Britain’s imperial expansion in the 18th century, the transatlantic slave trade, and a growing abolitionist movement.
When an artist is elected to the Royal Academy, it’s a tradition that they give one of their works to our Collection. Known as Diploma Works, we’ve gladly received quite a few in our 254-year history. So, can you name the artist behind these?
Over the past year, our team has been investigating the links between the RA and its colonial past. In our first post on this subject, we offer an update on this work, and capture how we’re documenting associations between 18th- and 19th-century Royal Academicians and colonial activities
Explore the exhibition of late works by one of Britain’s best-loved artists.
Constable didn’t know he was entering his ‘late’ period, but in the last ten years of his life he sought truth in nature, and created landscapes infused with timeless imagination.
Take ten minutes to meditate as we guide you through a slow, mindful look at Yinka Shonibare RA’s sculpture.
Enjoy five blissful minutes of mindfulness and art with this guided meditation.
Take ten minutes to meditate as we mindfully guide you through John Aldrige’s still life painting ‘Artichokes and Cathay Quinces’.
Spend 10 mindful minutes on a guided meditation through the details of Rodney Burn RA’s ‘Bracklesham Sands’.
What does a 230-year-old household bill tell us about life modelling in the 18th-century? Here, we explore the historical role of the female nude life model at the RA.
Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser were the only two female founders of the Royal Academy. Here, we take a closer look at their careers and the challenges they faced within the RA.
19th-century women faced an uphill struggle to get equal access to training at the Royal Academy Schools. Here, we delve into the RA Archive to learn more about women’s fight for equality.
Spend 60 seconds exploring the dark mythology behind John William Waterhouse RA’s ‘A Mermaid’.
Two legs good, four legs better? Grab your pencils and sketch this tiny pony in two short poses from our 2019 event #LifeDrawingLive: the anatomy class.
In 2018, we hosted the world’s first-ever livestreamed life drawing class from the Royal Academy’s famous Life Room, #LifeDrawingLive. Grab a pencil and have a crack at each pose by life model Andrew Crayford.
In 1922, the Royal Academy elected its first female member in over 150 years, Annie Swynnerton – here’s how to read her enigmatic painting of a young woman.
Historian Jenny Uglow tells the story of how Angelica Kauffman became a founding Member of the RA and one of the most revered artists in Georgian Britain.
Jump into the Last Supper, put a masterpiece from our Collection in your own living room or take a virtual tour of our beautiful building on Google Arts & Culture.
This meticulous and mysterious work by Meredith Frampton is full of contrasting symbolism. Our Collections team guide you through it in this three-minute read.
Doodling is not a modern phenomenon. Artists throughout time have let their minds wander, distracted in meetings or at dinners, filling pages with odds and ends of experimental creativity. As the coronavirus keeps many of us in our homes, we’ve uncovered 10 of our favourite doodles from the RA Collection for use as inspiration for the daily doodle challenges on our Twitter.
This one’s for dog and art-lovers everywhere, as well as the cat people yet to be converted. We went for walkies through our Collection and found a pack of misfit mutts, and perfect pooches depicted by artists across the centuries. Here is a selection showing that today’s obsession with cute dog pics has its roots in art history.
Inspired by our exhibition ‘Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits’, we looked through the RA Collection to find self-portraits by our own Academicians. From conventional portrayals of the artist at work to some more unusual manifestations of the self – here are the 10 top self-portraits from the RA Collection.
Fiona Maddocks meets the former teacher and pupil duo about their co-curated project on their Academy forebears.
Currently on show in the RA’s Collections Gallery cabinet is a selection of works from our collection, curated by Mali Morris RA. Here, the abstract painter and Royal Academician talks us through some of the works she’s chosen for the display.
Have a go at using a stencil to carve a pumpkin this Halloween. These stencils are all inspired by artworks from the RA Collection. Download it and get crafting!
Sarah Pickstone, alumna of the RA Schools, discusses the inspiration behind her new works in Burlington House, her co-operative studio and the democratic nature of drawing.
To celebrate our 250th birthday, we’re exploring 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection in 25 themes. With an exhibition of the architect Renzo Piano currently taking place at the RA, in this online exhibition we look at the some of the architectural works in the RA collection, from models to poems.
Become a film director for the day and create your very own cartoon animation inspired by artworks from the RA Collection.
To celebrate our 250th birthday, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection in 25 themes. In this edition, with the Summer Exhibition on display, and another RA exhibition – The Great Spectacle – looking back at its history, we explore some works in the Collection from Summers gone by.
For our 250th birthday, we highlighted 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection in 25 themes. With a free display exploring how artists have traditionally learnt to draw, in this edition we head into the Royal Academy’s historic schools…
The Great Spectacle charts 250 years of Summer Exhibitions – including 1914, when Suffragette Mary Wood attacked a John Singer Sargent portrait with a meat cleaver. We delve into the Royal Academy’s archive to find out how the Academy, and the public, reacted.
To celebrate our 250th birthday, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection in 25 themes. In this edition we put on our dancing shoes to tap, twirl and stomp our way from antiquity to today.
To celebrate our 250th birthday, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection in 25 themes. In this edition – inspired by the beautiful cloud drawings of Tacita Dean, currently on display in her ‘LANDSCAPE’ exhibition – take a few minutes to drift through the clouds that have been etched, sketched, printed and painted throughout history.
To celebrate our 250th birthday, we’re finally putting the treasures of our Collection on free display all across the RA. Each artwork has its own unique character, so which one matches yours?
Artistic director Tim Marlow gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Royal Academy of Arts.
To celebrate our Collection going on display for the first time, we asked our Professor of Ancient Literature, Mary Beard, to tell us the stories behind some of her favourite pieces inspired by classical myths – from Hercules and Venus to lesser-known gods, nymphs and cyclopes. You’ll find all these works on free display in the new RA.
Epic conflicts, mythical heroes and a quiet bit of fishing all feature in historian Dan Snow’s favourite objects from the RA Collection. Listen as he recaps the Battle of Waterloo, explains the ingenious WWI ‘Dazzle’ designs and muses on a deathbed olive branch extended from Gainsborough to Reynolds.
To celebrate our 250th birthday this year, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection across 25 themes. In this edition, we’re setting forth across the seven seas to discover works by artists who voyaged across the globe, drawing what they saw.
To celebrate our 250th birthday this year, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection across 25 themes. In this edition, curator Annette Wickham talks us through some of the more surprising objects you’ll stumble across down in the depths of the Collection, from a lock of Napoleon’s hair to a rather fancy tea set…
Have a go at colouring different artworks from the RA Collection! Download a colouring sheet and crack out your pencils and pens.
To celebrate our 250th birthday this year, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from the RA Collection across 25 themes. In this edition, we’re looking at the fearsome mythical beasts lurking in the shadows of our archives, from the colossal serpents of Norse legend to hideous hydras from Greek myth.
The RA will turn 250 on 10 December this year. To celebrate, we’re highlighting 250 beautiful, odd and inspiring objects from our Collection across 25 themes. We’re starting with the study of human anatomy, once a key part of the artistic training provided at the RA Schools. Here’s our head-to-toe guide to what happens when fresh corpses and fine art meet…
Top chef Tom Kerridge has a longstanding love of art; his wife is a sculptor and he was a good friend of the late Sir Anthony Caro. Against the bustling backdrop of his two Michelin-starred pub, he tells us about some favourite works in the RA Collection – starting with the gruesome tale of James Legg, a 19th-century murderer whose corpse was skinned, crucified and cast in plaster as a teaching aid for the RA Schools.
Take a closer look at Henry Raeburn’s Boy and Rabbit, an intimate family portrait from the RA Collection.
Is it snowing where you are? Here are some of the ways that artists have captured beautiful wintery scenes over the past 250 years – just in case you haven’t seen enough this week.
“I’ve been drawn to works on paper that really show the thought processes of artists and architects”, says printmaker, painter, and President of the Royal Academy, Rebecca Salter, as she gives an audio tour of the online Collection.
Anne Desmet is the only current Royal Academician elected for her work as an engraver. In this online tour, she unearths treasures from the Collection including works by Dürer, Piranesi and William Blake.
The award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney offers an audio tour of favourite works from the RA Collection – from John Constable to Antony Gormley.
“I’ve set out a little curriculum from which you could teach someone to draw,” says artist and teacher Stephen Farthing, as he gives an audio tour of the online collection.
Edward Burne-Jones and his fellow Pre-Raphaelites are famed for their paintings, but their illustrations, which were an important part of their early careers, are less well-known. Here’s a closer look at one of Burne-Jones’s wood engravings.
The Falling Titan depicts the doomed attempt of an earthbound giant to reach Olympus and overthrow Zeus by climbing up a pile of great boulders, only to be crushed by those very stones.
Bill Woodrow RA’s Fingerswarm is part of a new display of sculpture curated by Richard Deacon RA. Woodrow held a swarm of bees on his bare hand at a beekeeping course, sparking the idea for this surreal sculpture.
This painting-within-a-painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicts his artist wife and her siblings examining an earlier work by the couple, painted to symbolise their marriage.
Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Deacon RA talks obsessive collecting, ambiguous titles and finding the interest in everything.
Pattern and design are as important as accuracy in this wood engraving by Charles Tunnicliffe RA. Come and take a closer look…
Architect Ian Ritchie is known for audacious works such as the 120-metre Spire of Dublin and the world’s largest glass hall in Leipzig, but the poems and etchings that inspire these buildings are not so well known. Here we take a closer look at his unusual early design process.
In 2018 we’re unveiling new spaces to display the Royal Academy’s Collection. In this video, we take a look at some of the treasures that will be on show, including the UK’s only sculpture by Michelangelo.
The year 2017 was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality, marked at Tate Britain with an exhibition of ‘Queer British Art’, featuring Henry Tuke’s A Bathing Group from our collection. Take a closer look…
The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John, known as the Taddei Tondo, is the only marble sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti in a UK collection.
Here’s the story behind a slightly unusual work by Royal Academician Anthony Green.
Painted quickly to develop ideas before the final work, this is one of 16 oil sketches by John Constable RA in our collection. Here’s an introduction to Flatford Mill from a Lock on the Stour.
Merry Christmas, art-lovers! This morning we bring you some light entertainment from the RA Collection – which, it turns out, is chock-a-block with pipers piping, french hens and maids a-milking. We’ve made just a few festive alterations…
It’s looking rather balmy in London just now, so we’re seeking out our own white Christmas in the RA collection, with Joseph Farquharson’s snowy Scottish landscape. Did you know the sheep are fake?
The RA archive is a treasure trove of stories, memories and recordings about art and artists from the past 250 years. In honour of Explore Your Archive week, we introduce some of its highlights and four more London archives to explore, holding everything from American performance art footage to rare Japanese prints.
Sir William Chambers’s beautiful 18th-century drawing tells an ancient story about the beginnings of architecture.
Take a closer look at how one of Britain’s most celebrated 19th-century sculptors tackled an ancient Roman tale in marble.
During his lifetime, John Bellany RA contributed to a renaissance in the Scottish arts.
Draughtsmanship was an essential part of Lord Leighton PRA’s artistic practice and he placed great value on his drawings.
A French-born painter famed for his detailed naval scenes, the artist had an adventurous early life, before returning to England in the 1750s to embark upon a successful artistic career and become a founding member of the Royal Academy in 1768.
As we celebrate Leonard Manasseh RA’s 100th birthday, we take a look at the architect’s design for Radipole Lake pumping station.
This month sees the opening of the first retrospective of Bill Jacklin RA’s graphic work, tracing his career from his student days at Walthamstow School of Art in the early 1960s to his latest monotypes, created at the beginning of this year.
Augustus Leopold Egg was a talented painter and generous mentor, known for his atmospheric treatment of literary and historical subjects. To mark 200 years since his birth, we take a look at his life and work.
William Heath Robinson was an illustrator of enormous range and charm. As the RA Library Print Room presents his evocative book illustrations, curator Amanda-Jane Doran takes a look at his life and work.
As Yinka Shonibare RA prepares to wrap the Academy’s Burlington Gardens façade in his bold designs, the RA Collections team takes a look at one of his distinctive works.
As her new series of drawings goes on display at the RA, we take a look at the life and work of one of Britain’s best abstract sculptors.
“All my paintings are ultimately about the human condition, figures doing something or nothing.”
“My paintings are abstract to me.” Basil Beattie RA’s painting suggests a narrative of ascent, but leads nowhere.
Thomas Daniell RA is best known for his images of the Indian subcontinent. More widely travelled than any of his colonial artist counterparts, he earned the nickname of “artist-adventurer”.
Alongside an illustrious career exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Richard Westall RA was the drawing master to a young Princess Victoria, soon to be Queen.
“There was always landscape,” George Clausen RA said of his painting.
Edwin La Dell is best known for his printmaking, in particular lithography, which he was a major exponent for in post-1945 British art.
By 1880 there was huge competition amongst publishers to employ the best writers, illustrators and designers for books published in the run up to the Christmas holiday.
Through his paintings, drawings and engravings, Bill Jacklin RA has obsessively pursued an exploration of light and darkness in all its possible forms.
Andrea Appiani is Lombardy’s most accomplished and well-known neoclassical painter, distinguished particularly in his production of frescoes.
Known as ‘Captain Jones’ by his contemporaries, George Jones RA maintained loyalty throughout his life to his two passions, the Royal Academy and the Army.
A 19th-century cast of Francesco Laurana’s bust of Maria Sforza is currently on display in the RA Library as part of Edmund de Waal’s project, ‘white’.
The architect’s design for the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth was created to house the remains of the Tudor warship.
As the extraordinary Waterloo cartoon goes on display at the RA, we take a look at the other works of Daniel Maclise in the RA Collection.
The artist’s short, vigorous brushstrokes and bright palette of blues, greens and white suggest the fresh, vivid atmosphere of the mountains.
A prominent member of ‘The Birmingham Group’, Charles Gere RA was inspired by the medieval period and lead the revival of tempera painting.
The artist’s printmaking combines boldly defined outline with vivid colouring, an approach which the artist also applies to his own self-image.
On the 100th anniversary of his death, we explore the work of one of the most important artists in the resurgence of the decorative arts in Britain.
The conflict blocked artists from travelling – but also led to a boom in the art market and the arrival of works by Titian and van Eyck. As a wave of commemorations marks Waterloo’s 200th anniversary, our Curator of Works on Paper explains.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Alfred Elmore RA’s birth, an artist who continually explored theatrical and historical scenes.
As he observed the daily life of farming peasants, Pisarro illustrated his belief in an idyllic rural community balancing work with leisure.
As he prepares to open a new retrospective of the work of Eileen Cooper RA, we chat to Morgan Feely about his daily life at the RA.
Fishing was often a subject of JMW Turner’s paintings. Here we take a look at his own fishing rod.
From a Continental training, Lord Leighton had a mixed reception in Britain, but went on to be President of the RA.
This week, RA Magazine travels to Oxford to take a look at a cluster of art events opening in the city, from the Ashmolean to the Bodleian Library.
In this painting, A.K. Lawrence RA captures the mythical figure of Persephone escaping from the cavernous Underworld and dancing into the light, heralding the arrival of spring.
A key figure in the revival of line engraving in the 1920s, Stanley Anderson RA (1884–1966) is best known for his series of prints memorialising England’s vanishing rural crafts.
As a new exhibition of paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds opens at the Wallace Collection, we take a look at one of his more experimental pieces in the RA Collection.
On the eve of a major exhibition in London dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, we delve into the RA’s archive to learn more about the Academy’s founding president.
The illustrator Charles Stewart’s preoccupation with the past suggests he lead an unusual life.
A trip to Pompeii in Italy ignited a preoccupation with Classicism that spanned Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA’s career.
Jean Cooke RA has explored her own image through self-portraiture over many years, including painting herself wearing a heavy brass fireman’s helmet.
Though she has travelled from Europe to South Africa and New Mexico, it is the rugged terrain of Scotland to which Barbara Rae RA repeatedly returns.
From life modelling to behind the scenes of ‘Mr Turner’, we round up our most-read blog posts from the past year.
Sandra Blow RA created “thrilling harmonies” with bold colours and abstract compositions inspired by the Kent countryside and trips to Rome and St Ives.
Working out of doors, Sir John Arnesby Brown RA used dynamic brushstrokes and a palette knife to capture bovine energy and the drama of dark, thundery clouds.
Though famous for his vignettes of high society in elegant interior settings, perhaps the most enduring of William Quiller Orchardson RA’s works is of his daughter on a billowy cliff walk.
Typical of the work of Allen Jones RA in its examination of the voyeuristic gaze, this print depicts the psychology of human interaction in bold unmodulated colours.
Learn more about some of the highlights of our Collection that have recently gone on show in the John Madejski Fine Rooms.
Originally cast in 1776 from the corpse of a smuggler fresh from execution, ‘Smugglerius’ was commissioned to improve the teaching of anatomy in the RA Schools.
Inspired by nature, John Constable RA brought landscape art into the public eye at a time when portraiture and historical subjects were much more widely esteemed.
Two members of the RA Collection team have just returned from Japan where they were transferring an exhibition of works from the RA across the country.
Combining several elements of his work, this piece features the crowds common to works by Lowry, who often painted from memory or imagination.
A student at the RA schools, John Phillip RA’s association with the Royal Academy began at a young age, stowing away on a ship from Aberdeen to London to visit the Royal Academy Exhibition.
Behind the scenes with the conservators working on our Maclise cartoon.
As the conflict continued, the Royal Academy adapted its exhibition programme to support the war effort.
The First World War took a heavy toll on the Royal Academy’s artists, staff and students - and left indelible scars on our building.
Taken from one of the artist’s sketchbooks, this captures the Italian town of Nonantola just prior to the beginnings of the First World War.
George Clausen is remembered for the range of his remarkable accomplishments, both as an artist and as a dedicated Member of the RA.
How the RA played a role in the development of a dazzling new form of camouflage.
With volunteers drilling in the courtyard and the Red Cross taking over the galleries, the RA soon found itself at the centre of the war effort.
A snapshot of the Royal Academy on 4 August 1914, with the country poised on the brink of war.
We’re joining in with a national moment of reflection on Monday 4 August.
A small pamphlet, discovered deep within our archives, shows that the beard as the defining feature of hipster facial fashion has been around longer than you might think.
The film ‘Love has no reason’ by RA Schools graduate Julie Born Schwartz has been added to the Royal Academy’s historic Collection.
As a flamboyantly self-styled “working-class cockney”, Ruskin Spear RA found subjects for painting in the pubs, snooker halls and streets of Hammersmith, Fulham, Shepherd’s Bush and Chiswick.
These two canvases are a study for a panoramic work, ‘A Closer Grand Canyon’, which was made up of 96 individual canvases and painted in 1998.
For many homeless and marginalised people, art-making can seem a closed-off world. Our learning team tell us how the RA is trying to change that.
The works of the architect, and subject of our ‘Dream, Draw, Work’ exhibition, recall the now rare traditional skills and techniques of architectural design, from working drawings to beautiful ink drawings.
One of the treasures of the Royal Academy Collection is now on display in a new exhibition about Michelangelo at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
Neil Bingham, curator of the RA exhibition ‘Dream Draw Work: Architectural Drawings of Norman Shaw RA’ confesses to a curatorial crime.
One of the most influential figures in twentieth-century British art, Sickert’s Diploma work uses an impasto style to depict the ornate Baroque decorations of the Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.
Child prodigy Angelica Kauffman went on to be a founder-member of the Royal Academy. Her paintings and drawings were widely reproduced and were particularly popular in England, often being used in interior decorations.
We take a look at the main printmaking techniques and some of the terminology you’ll encounter when looking at original prints.
The influence of Aitchison’s travels to Italy is evident in this representation of the Crucifixion, presented to the Academy on his election.
Born in Florence, Italy, the son of a goldsmith, Bartolozzi trained with his father before enrolling at the Florentine academy in 1742.
As the V&A celebrates the highly influential artist and designer, we reveal how William Kent’s career came to life with his work for Burlington House – now the home of the Royal Academy.
Thanks to a grant from Arts Council England, Daniel Maclise’s monumental ‘Waterloo’ cartoon is to undergo conservation treatment in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015.
Recent years have seen a host of new innovations here at the RA, but the election process for new Academicians has hardly changed in almost 250 years. Here is how it all works.
Helen Valentine, our Senior Curator, and Edwina Mulvany, our Registrar, have just returned from Australia where they were installing the exhibition ‘Genius and Ambition’.
In 1910, C. Lewis Hind in the Art Journal, summarised Mark Fisher’s working practice thus: ‘He just walks out, sees something, feels an irresistible desire to paint it, and proceeds to paint it in the open air.’
A recently discovered drawing turns out to be a design by Richard Norman Shaw RA for the biscuit barrel that he presented to the Academy in 1883.
Charles Saumarez Smith, our Secretary and Chief Executive, was recently in Australia to visit ‘Genius and Ambition’, an exhibition of works from our collection on show at Bendigo Art Gallery.
Born in Bradford in 1937, Norman Stevens enrolled at the city’s art school to study painting aged only 15.
As the V&A explores the influential career of William Kent this season, we explore three works that testify to the abiding achievements of 18th-century Britain’s most versatile artist and designer.
A slice of history has recently returned to the Royal Academy after over 200 years, in the form of an intriguing drawing by John Flaxman RA.
Terry Setch painted ‘Smoked Out’ for the exhibition Images of Paradise held at Harewood House, Yorkshire, in 1989. The exhibition was organised by Survival International, a group dedicated to protecting the lives, culture, and land of tribal peoples.
George Frederic Watts RA was an influential and pre-eminent painter during his own lifetime. He became known for his portraiture and his Symbolist allegorical paintings, frequently depicting scenes from mythology, history, literature, and the Bible.
Joseph Farquharson RA was a landscape painter who was celebrated for his winter scenes, which he infused with a strong sense of atmosphere and mood.
Robert Anning Bell presented ‘The Women Going to the Sepulchre’ to the Royal Academy as his diploma work on his election as a Royal Academician in 1922.
Tracing the emergence of landscape painting as a distinct genre in its own right.