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Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in London in 1768 at the instigation of a group of 22 painters, sculptors and architects, which included Richard Wilson, Angelica Kauffmann and Francis Hayman, who had petitioned the king, George III. Sir Joshua Reynolds was its first president and gave the annual lecture, published as his 'Discourses'. There were 36 original Royal Academicians, although the rules of the new institution permitted 40; these included Gainsborough.

Its main function was to provide instruction for students of painting, sculpture and architecture, who were taught by nine Visitors and specialist professors, and to provide a venue for the annual summer exhibition.

It moved from its original home in Pall Mall to Somerset House in 1780, and then to the National Gallery after the opening of the Wilkins Building in 1838. It was finally established in its present home in Burlington House in 1869.