RA Short Course | Art and Society in 18th-Century Britain

Posted in opportunities by Editor on April 20, 2022

This summer from the RA:

Art and Society in 18th-Century Britain
RA Summer School Course, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2–6 August 2022

Angelica Kauffmann, Portrait of Lady Georgiana, Lady Henrietta Frances, and George John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, 1774, oil on canvas, 127 × 102 cm (Althorp House, Northamptonshire).

Immerse yourself in the Age of Enlightenment—its art, culture and society—at the historic Royal Academy.

The week-long course offers a grand tour of British art and society, with introductions to the artists, sitters, and collectors who defined the period. We look at the work of Hogarth, Reynolds, Kauffmann, and Turner, their impact on British society, and their lasting legacies. We meet some of the famous characters that defined the first age of celebrity via their portraits: Lord Burlington, the Duchess of Devonshire, the Prince of Wales, and Emma Hamilton.

We start the tour in London and look at the factors that resulted in the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts itself in 1768 and then widen our reach to explore ideas of Britishness and the English landscape; British relationships with its European neighbours, most notably their old enemy, France; and finishing at the dawn of the 19th century, embracing a newly global perspective, encompassing ideas of empire, travel, and exploration. The course covers numerous mediums and genres—from architecture to landscape—and the great European movements of the period: Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classicism, and Romanticism. The week is comprised of talks, seminars, and discussions based at the Royal Academy’s iconic 18th-century home, Burlington House, and will include access to many of London’s greatest art collections. The course is led by a broad range of experts and encourages a collaborative and discursive environment. After completing the course, participants will have a strong understanding of both the art and culture of the 18th century and the lasting impact that the Age of Enlightenment had on future generations of artists and their works.

Covid-19 update: We are looking forward to welcoming you back in a way that ensures everyone’s safety. Numbers will be limited to allow for social distancing, and we will be following the latest government guidelines. In the event of another national lockdown or enforced closure, we reserve the right to move this event online or to a future date. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss any accessibility needs, please contact academic.programmes@royalacademy.org.uk.

The course fee is £1,800, which includes all materials, light refreshments each day, and drinks receptions throughout the week. Minimum age 18.


Dan Cruickshank is a writer, art historian, architectural consultant, and broadcaster who has made numerous history and culture programmes and series for the BBC including Around the World in Eighty Treasures, Adventures in Architecture, and Britain’s Royal Palaces. His books include London: The Art of Georgian Building, Life in the Georgian City, and The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Sex Industry Shaped the Capital. Dan is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Artists, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group, and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust, and is an Honorary Fellow of RIBA.

Jacqueline Riding is the author of Jacobites (2016), Peterloo (2018), and the major biography Hogarth: Life in Progress (2021). She was the historical and art historical adviser on Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (2014) and Peterloo (2018) and is a trustee of JMW Turner’s House, Twickenham.

Charles Saumarez Smith was Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy from 2007 to 2018 and is now Professor of Architectural History. He was trained as an architectural historian at King’s College, Cambridge and did a PhD at the Warburg Institute on the architecture of Castle Howard, published in 1990 as The Building of Castle Howard. He has been Slade Professor at Oxford University, is an Honorary Professor at Queen Mary University, and architecture correspondent for The Critic.

Mark Pomeroy has been Archivist of the Royal Academy since 1998. He completed post-graduate training in Archive Administration at Aberystwyth University in 1996 and was then appointed the first ever records manager to the UK Parliament. Mark has written extensively on subjects bearing on the history of the Royal Academy, most recently making contributions to the History of the Royal Academy and the Paul Mellon Centre’s Summer Exhibition Chronicle. His edited Letters of James Northcote (co-authored with Jonathan Yarker) is forthcoming. Mark sits of the Archives & Heritage Committee of BAFTA and is a regular lecturer for The Archives Skills Consultancy.

Martin Postle is Senior Research Fellow Paul Mellon Centre, and formerly the Deputy Director for Grants and Publications. Between 1998 and 2007 he worked at Tate as Senior Curator and Head of British Art to 1900. Martin’s publications include Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures (1995), Gainsborough (2002), and, with David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings (2000). Among the exhibitions he has curated are Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity (Tate Britain and Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara 2005) and Johan Zoffany, RA: Society Observed (Yale Center for British Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London 2011–12). Martin is currently in the early stages of preparing a catalogue raisonne of the oil paintings of Joseph Wright of Derby, to be published by the Paul Mellon Centre.

Rebecca Lyons is the Director of Collections & Learning at the Royal Academy with a remit covering the Collection, Library & Archive, Learning and Academic Programmes. For the last three years Rebecca has been Director of the Attingham Trust’s prestigious Royal Collection Studies for museum directors, curators, and art-world professionals based at Windsor Castle. She was Curator for the National Trust at Knole and Ightham Mote. Prior to this, Rebecca was Director of the Fine & Decorative Art MLitt and MA programmes at Christie’s Education, London/University of Glasgow where she taught for fifteen years. Rebecca sits on the steering committee for the Society for the History of Collecting and is chair of a large Academy Trust in East London. Educated at Oxford, the Courtauld, and Cambridge, Rebecca is the author most recently of an essay on 18th-century collector Welbore Ellis Agar for Getty Publications (2019) and a chapter for the Royal Collection exhibition catalogue George IV: Art and Spectacle (2019).

Will Iron is a cultural historian with interests in the fashion, art, and literature of the eighteenth century. He is Academic Programmes Manager at the Royal Academy of Arts, where he leads the ongoing series of art and cultural history courses, lectures, and academic conferences. Previously he worked at the British Fashion Council. He studied at Central Saint Martins and King’s College London.

Anne Lyles, an expert on British landscape painting, worked at Tate Britain for 25 years. Co-curator of the RA’s Late Constable exhibition, Anne also co-curated Constable: The Great Landscapes (Tate Britain and other venues, 2006–07) and Constable Portraits (National Portrait Gallery and Compton Verney, 2009), as well as advising on Constable and Brighton (Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 2017).

Marcia Pointon is Professor Emerita in History of Art at the University of Manchester and Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is author of Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery (2009) and Rocks, Ice, and Dirty Stones: Diamond Histories (2017). Her work on portraiture has appeared in a wide number of scholarly journals over many years as well as in three monographs: Hanging the Head: Portraiture and Social Formation in Eighteenth-Century England (1993, now available on open access on the YUP A&Ae portal), Strategies for Showing: Women, Possession, and Representation 1665–1800 (1997), and Portrayal and the Search for Identity (2013). Marcia is also author of a popular guide to art history for students, now in its fifth edition: History of Art: A Students’ Handbook.

S.I. Martin works with museums, archives, and the education sector to bring diverse histories to wider audiences. As a museums consultant and curator he has worked with and for the Black Cultural Archives, National Maritime Museum, the V&A, Tate Britain, London Metropolitan Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Horniman Museum, the National Archives, RAF Museum, Wellcome Trust, and others. He has published five books of historical fiction and non-fiction for adult and teenage readers.

Clare Brant is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture at King’s College London, where she co-directs the Centre for Life-Writing Research. Her most recent scholarly book is Balloon Madness: Flights of Imagination in Britain, 1783–1786 (2017). She has co-edited nine essay collections and published widely on eighteenth-century and contemporary subjects. She has a Leverhulme Major Research Award (2022–25) for a forthcoming book, Underwater Lives: Humans, Species, Oceans. Clare is also a poet; her fourth collection, Breathing Space, was published by Shoestring Press in 2020.

Jonny Yarker, a leading dealer in British art, has written extensively on British art of the eighteenth century and the Grand Tour in particular. He is currently working on a book-length study of the British community in Rome entitled Savage Pilgrims: Rome and the Grand Tour, 1750–1798.

Christo Kefalas is a cultural anthropologist and art history researcher. Since 2018, she has worked for the National Trust, currently as the Senior Curator of Global and Inclusive Histories. She leads on institutional advice for the care and display of collections originating outside of Europe, while also promoting the greater global connectivity of all Trust collections. Christo was an editor and author of the Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties Now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery (2020). Her PhD from the University of Oxford focused on 19th-century Māori artefacts and a photography collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Christo brings an anthropological perspective on history and diverse cultural experiences to her public curation practice, acknowledging the importance of identity and power in society. She has worked as a curator for collections at The British Museum, Great North Museum Newcastle, and the Horniman Museum, where she managed the curatorial delivery of the permanent World Cultures Gallery in South London.

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