ROYAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH ARTISTS

1823 - ?

The Society of British Artists was founded in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London in 1823 and was granted a Royal Charter in 1846. The Society’s new galleries were created in Suffolk Street a short distance from the Royal Academy in Somerset House. These galleries were designed by the fashionable Regency architect John Nash. The Society began with just twenty-seven members under the Presidency of Thomas Heaphy, plus a complement of five Honorary Members. Although the Society was granted a Charter in 1846 it was not until Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Year of 1887, under the leadership of James McNeill Whistler, that the Society won the right to the prefix ‘Royal’. In following years, the Society attracted many painters and sculptors of note including Walter Sickert, Philip de László, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Peter Greenham, Sir Roger de Grey, Carel Weight and Colin Hayes. In 1970 the RBA transferred its assets to become the main contributor to the Federation of British Artists at Mall Galleries. On average, there are 110 members elected to the RBA, all of whom are entitled to exhibit in the Annual Exhibition which is held at Mall Galleries in London. The Society's previous gallery was a building designed by John Nash in Suffolk Street.