Over the last few months, I have been doing the picture research for a short book on the early history of the Royal Academy, which is due to be published in October.
As a result, I have made much more use of the websites of collections of British art internationally, including, of course, the Royal Academy’s own website.
In investigating the early work from the collection, I had the strongest possible impression that the artists of the day were keen to secure their place in history and hoped the new organisation they'd established was going to improve the status of art (it did), and secure their immortality (it couldn’t).
I found the picture research at least as exciting as writing the book, having not previously experienced the brave new world of seeking images on the web.
It is the ultimate realisation of André Malraux’s dream of a Museum without Walls.
You can read the full feature on the PCF's website.
Charles Saumarez Smith is the Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts and a Trustee of the Public Catalogue Foundation