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Making and Breaking the Rules: Royal Academy 250 at the Russell-Cotes

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Our major new exhibition celebrates the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts by examining the tension between the establishment and the
avant-garde as seen through the collections of the Russell-Cotes.

Founder, Sir Merton Russell-Cotes gloried in the prestige and status of the Royal Academy and the entree it provided into its elite social world. When buying work he used it as a brand and guarantee of quality and value. But he also recognised its limitations and saw that many renowned artists – whether women or Pre-Raphaelites – were excluded from its membership, and made his own choices.

This exhibition looks at the choices made and asks visitors, collectors, curators, as well as contemporary Royal Academicians, how to tread the path between establishment and the art that breaks the rules.

An accompanying catalogue will also be available to purchase, made possible by the Art Fund in partnership with RA250 UK.



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  • Watson, George Spencer, 1869 1934; Sunlight Nude

05th May 18 - 14th October 18