This print shows the private view of the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1787. The President of the Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds (seen in the centre of the crowd with one arm raised), is guiding the Prince of Wales (later George IV) around the exhibition. 13 of the works on display are by Sir Joshua himself, including a full-length portrait of the Prince of Wales. While the prince carries a catalogue of the exhibition, Sir Joshua holds his ear-trumpet. Following the pair is a grave-looking clergyman in clerical robes. ‘The Murder of Rizzio’, by portrait and history painter John Opie, features prominently on the left wall, while in the top row, just left of centre, is a ‘View of a Mosque at Raj Mahal, India’, by William Hodges which, precisely 200 years after its Royal Academy exhibition, was purchased for the Government Art Collection (see GAC 16592).
Ramberg made three drawings of the Royal Academy exhibition in 1784, which are now in the British Museum. He also drew the exhibitions of 1787 and 1788. Three of his Royal Academy drawings from different years were engraved by Pietro Antonio Martini. The works are now important records of how Academy exhibitions were presented in the Great Room at Somerset House.
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