History of the Summer Exhibition
For the first hundred years of its existence, from 1769 until 1869, the Royal Academy of Arts had held only one exhibition each year: the Annual (now called Summer) Exhibition. One of the founding principles of the Royal Academy was to 'mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit' to finance the training of young artists in the RA Schools. This has been held every year without interruption since 1769 and continues to play a significant part in raising funds to finance the students.
Johann Heinrich Ramberg, 'The Exhibition of the Royal Academy', 1787. Line engraving, 320 X 491 mm. Engraved by Pietro Antonio Martini Published by Anthony Poggi, 1 July 1787. Photo: R.A./Prudence Cuming Associates Limited.
The Royal Academy receives no public funding so all those who support the Summer Exhibition contribute to supporting artists of the future. The majority of works in the Summer Exhibition 2013 will be for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by high profile and up-and-coming artists.
Following long Academy tradition, the exhibition is curated by an annually rotating committee of Royal Academicians who are all practicing artists and architects. Any artist may enter work for selection and around 1200 works are exhibited. The Academy works hard to encourage a diverse range of artists to enter and, as a result, well over 100 artists are included every year who have not previously exhibited in the Summer Exhibition.
RA Magazine blog: Behind the scenes of the Summer Exhibition 1792