BRITISH INSTITUTION

1805 - 1870

The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was formed in 1805 to 'open a public exhibition for the sale of the productions of British artists, to excite the emulation and exertions of younger artists by premiums, and to endeavour to form a public gallery of the works of British artists, with a few select specimens of each of the great schools.' The British Institution purchased the lease of the former Boydell Shakespeare Gallery building at 52 Pall Mall and opened at the Pall Mall site on 18 January 1806. The British Institution held two exhibitions each year, one of the old masters the other of contemporary art the last being in 1867. The institution was driven more by the values of connoisseurship than those of artistic practice. The organisation ceased in 1870 and their old master exhibitions were adopted by the Royal Academy. The remaining capital of the Institution went to the formation of a fund for the ward of 'British Institution Scholarships', these continue.