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Johan Joseph Zoffany (Frankfurt 1733-London 1810)

The Academicians of the Royal Academy 1771-72

RCIN 400747

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Key to Zoffany's 'The Academicians'

Zoffany’s painting depicts artists in the life room of the recently founded Royal Academy of Arts, established in 1768 under the patronage of George III. At the heart of the curriculum was the study of the nude, following the example of earlier academies in Europe. Engaged in animated conversations, the Academicians here appear to discuss the foundations and merit of this rigorous artistic training.

For the last five hundred years, drawing from the nude model has been an important part of most artists’ education and the drawings exhibited alongside were all probably made in life classes. Typically, the young artists sat in a semi-circle around the posed model, while the teacher made drawings himself as exemplars for his students.