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Explore the portraits and room in the Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition at the Royal Academy

For the hundred years subsequent to its foundation in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts dominated the contemporary British art scene. The annual exhibition, open to all-comers, was the proving ground for an artist's skill and reputation. Henry Jamyn Brooks was inspired to paint this group portrait by the example of William Powell Frith's painting The Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881. Brooks did not choose to depict, like Frith, the Summer Exhibition of contemporary art but instead one of the Winter Loan Exhibitions of Old Master paintings which began in 1870. The portrait features the cream of late Victorian society, including many leading artists, gathered before a display of fine paintings in Room 3 of the Royal Academy.

Touch on a painting within the room below to find out more

Frans Hals, Portrait of an Unknown Man, Collection of Otto Naumann, Ltd, New York Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of Marie de Ract, 1631, Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection Rubens, The Apotheosis of the duke of Buckingham, 1627, (whereabouts unknown) Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of Philippe Le Roy, 1631, Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection Richard Wilson, Dinas Bran from Llangollen, 1770-1, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Gainsborough Dupont (after Gainsborough), Portrait of Queen Charlotte, Collection of the Earl of Powis, Powis Castle Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolf, 1770, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), The Hon, Miss Monckton, 1777-8, © Tate, London 2000

Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888, by Henry Jamyn Brooks, oil on canvas, 1889, Given by Henry Jamyn Brooks, 1919, NPG 1833, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888

The room in the Royal Academy in which the Private View took place in still in use today. Watch the Video to see the comparisons to now and at the Private view of the Old Masters Exhibition in 1888.


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