Tonight, I was asked to say a few words to a group who were about to have dinner in the Royal Academy Schools. I thought they might find it interesting to have a look at the picture which Johann Zoffany painted of the St. Martin’s Lane Academy not long after he arrived in London from Germany in 1760. I hadn’t looked at it carefully myself. What it shows is the most important academy in London before the Royal Academy itself. It was based in a courtyard off St. Martin’s Lane, was much more democratic than the Royal Academy (the subscription was two guineas for the first year and a guinea and a half thereafter), and more casual, a drop-in centre for evening classes in drawing. The person in the front looking out at the spectator is George Michael Moser, a Swiss artist who was committed to the community of artists and became the first Keeper of the Royal Academy. In the background, putting equipment away in a cupboard, is John Malin, who was the first member of staff of the RA.