Illustration of Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House

Description

Part of the Microcosm of London, this plate depicts a life drawing class at the Royal Academy of Arts. Established in 1768, the Royal Academy moved to Somerset House from premises on Pall Mall in 1771, where it remained until the 1830s when it relocated to Trafalgar Square to share space with the National Gallery. Burlington House became the Academy’s long-term address in 1867.

Background to the Microcosm of London collection of prints

The Microcosm of London was published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810 as a result of an ongoing collaboration between publisher Rudolph Ackermann, cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson, architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin, engravers John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden, anonymous hand-colourists and authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe. 

The Microcosm of London tapped into the demand for highly-coloured prints of real-life subjects that proved something of a publishing sensation during the Regency period. As such, the prints stand as a fascinating historical record of London life in the early years of the 19th century. While Pugin’s fine architectural drawings capture the size and shape of the capital’s principal buildings (both externally and from within) Thomas Rowlandson’s keenly observed figures depict the sheer colour and vitality of late Georgian society, rich and poor alike.

Full title:
Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House from Microcosm of London
Published:
1808-10, London
Format:
Book / Illustration / Image
Creator:
Rudolph Ackermann, W H Pyne, William Combe, Augustus Pugin, Thomas Rowlandson
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C.194.b.305-307.

Related articles

Accumulating London

Article by:
Matthew Sangster
Themes:
Transforming topography, Town and city

Advances in print technologies, a growing consumer base and the interventions of clever entrepreneurs led to a burgeoning of prints of London in the 18th and 19th century. Matthew Sangster considers the ways in which these prints represented and organised the city, placing them onto a digital map of London to reveal the geographical and cultural patterns they trace.

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