Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures

I have spent much of the weekend grappling, not wholly successfully, with the politics of the 1835 parliamentary Select Committee, one of whose purposes was to enquire into ‘the Constitution of the Royal Academy’.   What seems to have happened is that once parliament agreed to pay for the new building of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and that it should incorporate new premises for the Royal Academy as well, then a group of MPs assumed that the Academy should be open to parliamentary regulation.   Sir Martin Archer Shee put in a pretty stout defence as President, at least in the published transcript of the hearings.   But the attack was in some way counter-productive, causing the Academy to retreat from a more public role.

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