Hidden in the stacks of the Ingalls Library is a real gem, a complete run of the original exhibition catalogues of London's Royal Academy of Arts. Founded in 1768 under the patronage of George III to promote arts and design, the Academy produced printed salon catalogues beginning in 1769. Our twelve volume set once belonged to Lord Joseph Duveen, art dealer to American industrialists. Open the now leather-bound pages and the names of British masters leap out -- T. Gainsborough, Sir J. Reynolds, J. Zoffany, and B. West. This is contemporary art! Room-by-room the art is arranged for the viewer, and followed by a list of the "exhibitors, with their places of Abode." The Cosways reside in chic Berkeley Square but H(enry) Fuseli is found in St. Martin's Lane, most likely hanging out with the other artists at Old Slaughter's Coffee House.
This year, in June 2009, the 241st Royal Academy Exhibition opened with the theme, "Making Space," the goal to embrace as many different art forms as possible. Check out wild Damien Hirst's gleaming silver statue of St. Bartholomew, Cy Twombly's epic painting of three roses, and for the first time in Academy history an entire gallery devoted to film. It may seem a leap from 1769, but not really. N5054 .R69 1769-1900