RA Summer Exhibition 2019, Piccadilly, London

Held without interruption since 1769, the RA Summer Exhibition has opened for another year. Running continuously for 250 years, the 251st Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition, meaning anyone of any age can enter their work to be considered for inclusion.

Grayson Perry RA coordinated the 2018 Summer Exhibition, which celebrated the Academy’s 250th anniversary and was the biggest Summer Exhibition in the galleries history. Filling the main galleries and over to their newly expanded cultural campus, the exhibition featured works by Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians and artists, including David Hockney RAWolfgang TillmansTracey EminBruce Nauman and Ed Ruscha.

The works in the Summer Exhibition are selected and hung by Royal Academicians, who also exhibit works in the exhibition, creating an eclectic mix of work by established artists alongside emerging talent and first-time exhibitors.

This year the show continues in the tradition of showcasing a variety of work in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. 

This year, acclaimed British painter Jock McFadyen replaces Grayson Perry to co-ordinate the exhibition. Most of the 1500 works are on display for the first time. Highlights include an animal-themed ‘menagerie’ in the Central Hall, with works by artists including Polly Morgan, Charles Avery, Banksy and Mat Collishaw.


Artist sisters Jane and Louise Wilson RA have curated two galleries, one of which showcases work exploring light and time. Further artists exhibiting include Jeremy Deller, Marcus Harvey, Tracey Emin RA, Frank Bowling RA, Antony Gormley RA and Honorary Academicians Anselm Kiefer, James Turrell and Wim Wenders.

At one time the show was known simply as ‘The Exhibition’, where the likes of Gainsborough and Reynolds, Turner and Constable sharpened their skills against each other.

For all of the works displayed, the artist is the seller of the work and the Academy takes a 30% commission on all ‘offers to purchase’. The proceeds go towards the RA Schools and their programme of exhibitions.

In the 18th century all the exhibits were figurative. Hung from dado to cornice, a hanging style used since the beginning of the exhibition, pictures were abutted, tipped towards the viewer and arranged symmetrically. History painting and swagger portraits by the celebrated artists of the day sat on the line (the bottom edge of the exhibit being eight foot from the ground), with smaller pieces below and others by lesser-known artists skied above.

If you can’t make it to London, you can browse the artwork for sale via this link.

Images c/o David Parry / RA

The Summer Exhibition is is open from 10th June – 12th August 2019

Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

Open daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm

Nicky’s World June 2019