A successful candidate having passed the necessary tests and examinations - in which the display of a considerable degree of excellence is required - is privileged to work under the immediate guidance of the greatest living exponents of British painting, sculpture, or architecture of the day, each one a Royal Academician or an Associate of the Royal Academy.
Students are eligible also, if under a certain age, to compete for a large number of valuable scholarships, medals, and other prizes.
The Royal Academy Schools were first opened on January 2, I769 - the year after the Royal Academy was founded - in rooms in Pall Mall, providing an occasion for the president, Sir Joshua Reynolds, to deliver one of the most famous of his renowned "Discourses." For nearly a hundred years the schools undertook the arduous duty of initiating young would-be artists into the theory and practice of the fine arts. No fewer than seventy-seven students entered during the first year, and since its inauguration over 5,000 have passed through the school, the attendance averaging from I00 to I50 students annually.
The schools began as "An Antique Academy and School for the Living Model." In I8i5, the School of Painting, was added ; but the special Schools of Sculpture and Architecture were not opened until I87i.
The present school buildings - which were erected in I866 upon what were once the gardens of Burlington House - are magnificent, and besides providing a large number of well-lighted studios for daylight work, the evening schools are fitted with a most up-to-date and elaborate installation of electric light.
The schools have what is now probably the finest collection of antique casts in existence, and the walls of the studios and the passages are hung with beautiful reproductions of the Parthenon Frieze, and with many fragments of Greek bas-reliefs of rare beauty. Reproductions of the work of Michael Angelo and other great Italians are also at hand to provide still further inspiration for the young artist.
The splendid Art Library of the Royal Academy, containing no fewer than 7,000 volumes, many of them extremely rare and valuable, is daily at the disposal of the students from two to six, and pictorial competitions, with set subjects that require considerable historical and literary research are special features of the school work.
A time-honoured institution at the Royal Academy Schools: the daily morning visit of the
" bun boy"
Although Angelica Kaufmann - whose mural paintings now adorn the entrance hall to Burlington House - and Mary Moser had the honour of being placed amongst the original thirty-six foundation members of the Royal Academy, no woman artist has since been elected an R.a., although Professor Herkomer only defeated Lady Butler, whose name came up for election the same year, by a single vote; and it was not until the year I860 that "the powers that be," after much deliberation, decided to open their doors to women students.
At the present time (I9I I) the numbers of men and women students are about equally balanced, while the feminine members of the Painting School carry off their full share of scholarships and prizes. Amongst the list of Gold Medallists in painting emblazoned upon the walls of the entrance to the schools; which includes the names of John Hoppner, John Everett Millais, Frank Dicksee, Harry La Thangue, and Ralph Peacock, are those of three women students, Louisa Starr, who won the Gold Medal and travelling studentship, the highest honour of the year, in I867; Jessie Macgregor, who took it in I87i; and Miss M. H. W. Robilliard,who gained it in I909, each of them working in open competition with the men students of the school.
The Armitage Prize of £30 and a bronze medal for a design for a figure-picture in monochrome on a set subject was recently won for three years running by women students - by Hilda Lennard, in I907, for a design showing "The Angel Delivering St. Peter from Prison" ; by Amy G. Fry, in I908, for "Elijah Raising thewidow's Son" ; by Estella Cauziani, in I909, for "The Angel Destroying the Assyrian Host." On another occasion the first prize was won by May Dorothy Maltby, for "Joseph Interpreting Pharaoh's Dream." Exacting subjects, indeed, for a student to be required to portray from memory and imagination alone. A second Armitage Prize of £I0 is also awarded for the next best picture, and students who have qualified to compete for the Armitage Prizes are given three days in which to execute their designs at the schools. On the first day of the competition the students who are about to compete are shut up together in the gallery, each one armed with a packet of luncheon, in addition to painting materials. The subject is given out, and each competitor is required to leave a rough drawing of the exact arrangement of the figures with the keeper before leaving in the afternoon, and this arrangement must be rigidly adhered to during the two following days in working out the finished picture to be sent in for competition.
A class of girl students of the Upper School working from the costume model
The sketch winning the first prize becomes the property of the Royal Academy, and is hung in a place of honour in the corridor of the school. In I9i0, Miss
The system of tuition at the schools remains that which was originally adopted by the members of the Royal Academy - namely, education by a rotation of visitors, each one of whom takes a turn of office lasting for a month, so that students, for* instance, in the Painting School will have the privilege of receiving instruction from such men as Sir William Richmond, John Sargent, Henry Pegram, William Orpen, and George Henry, in the course of a single year Besides the visitors - four for architecture, ten for drawing, ten for painting, and five for sculpture, each year - there is a permanent keeper appointed to the schools, with two curators to assist him.
Professors are also appointed to deliver a series of lectures on painting, sculpture, anatomy, chemistry, and perspective annually, and students of painting are required to attend one course on each subject during thenfirst year at the schools.
The rules and regulations for the admission of students can be obtained at the office of the Royal Academy in Burlington House.
Students in the Lower School drawing and painting from a cast. The collection of casts from the antique in the Royal Academy Schools is probably the finest in existence