- Museum number
West Wall, The Great Room, Somerset House, the main space of the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts; four figures, including man on bench in foreground, paintings hung floor to ceiling on the surrounding walls, including in the centre James Northcotes's 'Portraits Painted from Life, Representing Capt Englefield with Eleven of his Crew Saving Themselves in the Pinnace, from the Wreck of the Centaur, of 74 Guns, Lost Sept 1782' (current whereabouts unknown). 1784
Pen and grey ink and grey wash, and watercolour
- Production date
Height: 335 millimetres
Width: 492 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing and the two other views of the Academy that were purchased with it (1904,0101.2,3) were acquired as works attributed to the German artist Johann Heinrich Ramberg, probably because his print of the Prince of Wales visiting the 1787exhibition at Somerset House was very well known and shows paintings on the walls and a similar manner of drawing figures. In 1981, Patricia Crown published an article entitled 'An album of sketches from the Royal Academy Exhibitions of 1780-1784' (Huntington Library Quarterly, vol.44, no. 1 (Winter, 1980), pp. 60-66) in which she attributed these three drawings to Burney on the grounds of comparison with other academy drawings by him in the Royal Academy collection but particularly because the sketches in the Huntington album were clearly related to the paintings depicted on the walls in these three paintings.The sketches were apparently used as an aide memoire for reviews of the annual exhibitions that appeared in the 'London Magazine' of which his cousin Charles Burney was an editor. The album also includes two small pencil sketches of walls of the 1784 exhibition which are preliminary sketches for these larger watercolours.
In this watercolour, the figure seated on the bench may be the artist's self-portrait (for his portrait by Henry Edridge, see 1867,0413.528). He exhibited two works that year, no. 187 'Portrait of a Child' and no. 328, Caroline from 'L'ami des Enfans, a sketch' - neither appear in these three watercolours. Apart from Northcote's painting (at centre) mentioned in the description, other identifiable paintings include Reynolds's portrait of Mrs Abingdon as Roxalana (no. 14 in the RA catalogue that year), next to a large 'Eruption of Vesuvius, in which the Elder Pliny lost his life' by Jacob Moore (15) and to the left of the door Thomas Jones's 'Morning, View of Naples' (232), J. H. Ramberg's 'Death of Captain Cook' (45, lower rt), De Loutherbourg's 'Dovedale' (25, to right of Mrs Abingdon), and Richard Cosway's 'The Angel delivering St Peter from Prison' (38, middle rt).
The three drawings were reproduced and discussed as by Burney in the catalogue of the 2001 exhibition at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, 'Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836', D. Solkin (ed.) Yale UP and Paul Mellon Centre, New Haven and London, pp.24-7. See also Mark Hallett, 'Reading the Walls: Pictorial Dialogue at the Eighteenth-Century Royal Academy', Eighteenth-Century Studies - Vol 37, No 4 (Summer 2004), pp. 581-604.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1951-2 RA, 'First 100 years of the RA', no.742
1969, BM, 'Royal Academy Draughtsmen 1769-1969', no.4
2016 15 Sep-4 Dec, USA, New Haven, Yale Centre for British Art, Spreading Canvas
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Royal Academy Annual Exhibition 1784
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number