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Scoop: image surfaces of hacks at Royal Academy press view—in 1892

Chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith was surprised by rediscovered illustration

The Magazine of Art, March 1892 MB

At the press launch yesterday, 7 September, of the Royal Academy’s 2018 exhibition programme, its chief executive, Charles Saumarez Smith, mentioned an image which had just been passed to him by The Art Newspaper—and which he had never seen before. It is an illustration of “press-day” at the RA in 1892. There is one demurely dressed woman among a sea of male top hats. Saumarez Smith jocularly observed that the media’s sartorial standards are not what they used to be. Next year, the RA celebrates a grand anniversary, so perhaps the 1892 illustration will grace the press invitation for the opening of The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition on 12 June. Or maybe not, since it would hardly chime with the RA’s efforts to woo a contemporary audience.