Royal academy of arts
In 1769, under the patronage of Britain's King George III, the Royal Academy met for its first session. The official title of this elite institution is "Royal Academy in London for the Purpose of Cultivating and Improving the Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture," but most people who know it, including its members, simply call it "The R.A." The painters among the R.A.'s founding members were its first president, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the portraitist Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), the landscapist Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), and Benjamin West (1738-1820), an American of the colonial period, who became president upon Reynolds' death. Members of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) are known as "associates", or more formally, "Associate of the Royal Academy" (ARA), and often place the initials "ARA" after their signatures. The Royal Academy owns a collection of masterful works produced by its members since the 18th century, and displays this collection in its galleries.Also see academy, artists' organizations, English art, history painting, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism.