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The Society of Artists of Great Britain 1760-1791

Matthew Hargraves

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In 1760 an innovation transformed the character of artistic life in Great Britain: the first public exhibition of art. The successful London exhibition was repeated in 1761, but a dispute in the wake of the first show split exhibitors into rival groups, among them the Society of Artists of Great Britain. This book is the first to examine closely the Society from its origins to its demise in 1791. Matthew Hargraves looks at the politics and personalities behind the earliest public exhibitions of British art and uncovers the profound impact of the Society of Artists on the history of British art.
The book analyzes the motivations behind public exhibitions and the competing interests that shaped their development. It offers new insights into the infighting in the Society of Artists that led to the foundation of the Royal Academy and the subsequent rivalry between the two institutions. Far from being eclipsed by the Royal Academy, the Society provided a serious alternative and acted as a haven for some of the leading artists of the time.

Matthew Hargraves is research associate at the Yale Center for British Art.

"[An] excellent book" - Christopher Woodward, The Spectator

“[Hargraves’s] detailed investigation of every last nuance of the plentiful documentation makes for an enthralling…insight into 18th-century political and social intrigue, a case study that can inform a broad view of the life of the period. … [A] work of diligent scholarship…” - Andrew Wilton, Apollo Magazine

"A close, nuanced reading of the surviving minutes of the Society's meetings."—John Bonehill, Oxford Art Journal
ISBN: 9780300110043
Publication Date: March 28, 2006
Publishing Partner: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
280 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
80 b/w illus.
Great British Watercolors

From the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art

Matthew Hargraves with an introduction by Scott Wilcox

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Varieties of Romantic Experience

British, Danish, Dutch, French, and German Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp

Matthew Hargraves; With a preface by Charles Ryskamp

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