The Royal Society of Portrait Painters contains a broad collection of stylistic and intellectual approaches that continue to make a significant contribution to the ongoing tradition of portraiture in Britain today. The Society vigorously looks to uphold the values and practices of its long and distinguished history, but at the same time, it seeks to explore and develop new artistic models and perspectives in this endlessly fascinating and relevant discipline.
PATRONS, OFFICERS & FRIENDS
H.M. The Queen
Anne Beckwith-Smith LVO
Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll DBE
Damon de Laszlo
The Hon. Sandra de Laszlo
Sir Christopher Ondaatje OC CBE
Mark Stephens CBE
Daphne J Todd OBE PPRP NEAC HON HON SWA
Richard Foster (President)
Simon Davis (Vice President)
Andrew James (Treasurer)
Anthony Connolly (Secretary)
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters was founded in 1891 by 24 artists who were dissatisfied with the selection policies of the Royal Academy for its annual exhibition in London.
They formed themselves into a new body concerned solely with portrait painting, the ‘Society of Portrait Painters’. The Society was formed of members elected on the basis of the quality of their work.
The first exhibition of the Society was held in 1891. The catalogue of that exhibition shows that its committee then consisted of Archibald Stuart-Wortley (Chairman), Hon. John Collier, Arthur Hacker, G. P. Jacomb-Hood, S.J. Solomon, James Jebusa Shannon and Hubert Vos. The other members listed were Percy Bigland, C. A. Furse, Glazebrook, John McLure Hamilton, Heywood Hardy, Hubert von Herkomer, Henry J. Hudson, Louise Jopling, T. B. Kennington, W. Llewellyn, W. M. Loudan, Arthur Melville, Anna Lea Merritt, F. M. Skipworth, Mrs Annie Swynnerton, W. R. Symonds, Mary Waller, Edwin A. Ward, Leslie Ward (better known as “Spy”), and T. Blake Wirgman.
Other early members included Sir John Everett Millais, George Frederick Watts, John Singer Sargent, Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler. Women were eligible for membership from the start.
At the Coronation Exhibition of 1911, which marked its 20th anniversary, it was announced that King George V had conferred on the Society the status of a Royal Society, and it has been known as the Royal Society of Portrait Painters since then.
Download a pdf Royal Society of Portrait Painters Members since 1891