The Making of an Artist: Learning about Architecture
Aspiring architects in the 18th-century RA Schools honed their craft by copying casts taken from classical buildings. This display brings those casts together, revealing another aspect of traditional artistic training.
Please note: This display has been closed until further notice. When we open on 9 July you’ll be able to see Picasso and Paper (pre-booking essential). Sign up for emails or follow us on social media for further updates.
It was an architect, William Chambers, who delivered the 1768 petition to King George III asking him to support the foundation of an Academy for artists and architects. The newly formed RA Schools taught architecture until the 1950s, and just as aspiring artists were taught to look to classical statues for guidance, would-be architects were required to closely study classical architecture.
The RA Collection includes a large number of architectural casts that were acquired for this purpose. Purchased from 1770 to 1870, many of these casts going on display came from the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the fourth president of the RA. The casts were made from moulds taken directly from the great architectural monuments of ancient Rome. In some cases they now include more detail than the buildings themselves, which have been damaged by weather, pollution, vandalism and overzealous 19th-century restorations.
Dates to be announced
The Dorfman Architecture Court, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts
Donate to the RA
The RA is a charity, run by artists and funded by art-lovers. Your donation supports our future, to continue to create, debate and exhibit great works of art and to champion art and artists.
return to start
Start exploring the RA Collectionread more
- Explore art works, paint-smeared palettes, scribbled letters and more...
- Artists and architects have run the RA for 250 years.
Our Collection is a record of them.
The RA Schools
The RA Schools is a school of contemporary art at the heart of the Royal Academy. Each year, up to 17 artists join our three-year postgraduate programme. Former students include Turner Prize nominee Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Eddie Peake, Catherine Story and Matthew Darbyshire.
Founded in 1768, the RA Schools remain free and independent to this day.