The Royal Art Academy's Summer Exhibition has been running for almost two and a half centuries. The first exhibit was held in 1769, with a display of a hundred and thirty-six works; now in 2014 that number has risen to a staggering one thousand two hundred and sixty-two paintings, sculptures, costumes and installations spread across twelve galleries.
An entrance fee of one shilling was imposed to stop the 'riff-raff' or 'undesirables' attending, but a lot of the visitors arrived with more than just art on their mind; it was one of the few social events in which both sexes could mingle.
The Summer Exhibition has survived nine monarchs, fifty Prime Ministers, and Two World Wars, including a direct Zeppelin attack from which all the artwork came out unscathed.
With an open house policy, anyone can enter, providing a diverse range of work, many of which compliment one another. For the first time, judges have allowed artists to submit their work digitally, and received twelve thousand entries. The best 10% is now on display until the 17th August, and awaits final judging for the £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award.
Entry is £13.50, but this is rather to fund RA projects than to discourage undesirables.