Royal Academy during the 2004 summer exhibition
The Summer Exhibition is an art exhibition held annually by the Royal Academy in Burlington House, Piccadilly in central London. The exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models and is the largest and most popular open exhibition in the United Kingdom.
When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768 one of its key objectives was to establish an annual exhibition, open to all artists of merit, which could be visited by the public. The first Summer Exhibition took place in 1769; it has been held every year since without exception.
Today, around 1,000 works are selected each year from as many as 9,000 entries representing some 5,000 artists. Any artist may submit up to three works, for a fee of 18 pounds per piece (as of 2004). Exhibits are selected by The Summer Exhibition Selection and Hanging Committee. This is formed from the Council of Academicians (the governing body of the RA) and is traditionally chaired by the President of the Royal Academy, currently the sculptor Professor Phillip King.
Almost all exhibited works are for sale; the Academy receives 30% of the purchase price. In 2003, this amounted to a sum of some 2 million pounds for the institution, which receives no financial support from the state or crown.
The exhibition, which runs during the summer months of July and August, is traditionally opened with a procession to the nearby St. James church, led by the Archbishop of Westminster.