The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

Founders of the Royal Academy of Arts


30 People in sitter grouping:

The Royal Academy of Arts was founded to offer training for artists and provide an exhibition space. It's founding members wanted to raise the status of the artist, which in turn would encourage and foster a national school of art. The architect sir William Chambers, was able to secure royal and financial support from his connections to George III, who passed a personal act in 1768 to found the Academy. The 34 founding members included Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) and Thomas Sandby (1721-1798), who were presided over by its first president Joshua Reynolds. Today, current Academicians include David Hockney and Sir Antony Gormley.

Francis Milner Newton

Francis Milner Newton

1720-1794
Portrait painter
Sitter in 4 portraits
Edward Penny

Edward Penny

1714-1791
Portrait and history painter
Sitter in 3 portraits | Artist associated with 5 portraits
John Inigo Richards

John Inigo Richards

1731-1810
Landscape and scene painter
Sitter in 7 portraits
Thomas Sandby

Thomas Sandby

1721-1798
Draughtsman and architect; brother of Paul Sandby
Sitter in 8 portraits
Dominic Serres

Dominic Serres

1722-1793
Marine painter
Sitter in 9 portraits
Peter Toms

Peter Toms

active circa 1748-died 1777
Painter and herald
Sitter in 3 portraits
William Tyler

William Tyler

active circa 1760-died 1801
Sculptor and architect
Sitter in 5 portraits
Samuel Wale

Samuel Wale

1721-1786
History painter
Sitter in 3 portraits | Artist associated with 10 portraits
Richard Yeo

Richard Yeo

circa 1720-died 1779
Medallist
Sitter in 5 portraits
Francesco Zuccarelli

Francesco Zuccarelli

1702-1788
Landscape painter
Sitter in 3 portraits

Do, draw and make!

Do, draw and make!

From building dens to food faces – enjoy our Playful Portraits activities and find out about some brilliant people!

Get Creative

Healthcare Heroes

Activities for children and families inspired by three healthcare heroes from our Collection.

Learn together

Learning resources

Downloadable and web based resources to support learning at home linked to art, history, citizenship and literacy.

Get learning