Last night the Paul Mellon Centre published an online account of the history of the Summer Exhibition year-by-year with a description of the artists who entered, the key works, and, where possible, the press and public response, each year written by a different author (https://chronicle250.com). It is going to be an absolutely invaluable resource, not just for the history of the Royal Academy, but for the study of changing fashions in British art as a whole, starting with a description by Mark Hallett, the Mellon Centre’s Director, of a portrait of William and Penelope Welby by Francis Cotes which appeared in the first exhibition which opened on 26 April 1769 in Lambe’s Auction Rooms on Pall Mall. I wrote the entries for 1949 because I was interested to find out what works were exhibited in the year that Alfred Munnings gave his memorably bigoted speech (https://chronicle250.com/1949) and for 2008, the first year that I attended Summer Exhibition committee meetings (https://chronicle250.com/2008). Today is Varnishing Day, as we embark on the opening arrangements for the 250th. Summer Exhibition and, this year only, The Great Spectacle, a survey of the whole history of the exhibition, beginning with a history painting, Hector Taking Leave of Andromache by Angelica Kauffmann, exhibited alongside three others by her in 1769.