Royal Academy including Burlington House and Galleries and Royal Academy Schools Buildings
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
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- Statutory Address:
- Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- City of Westminster (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 29197 80562
This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 01/06/2018
TQ2980NW; 1900/70/78, 1900/70/79
PICCADILLY W1 (North side), Royal Academy, including Burlington House, Galleries and Royal Academy Schools Buildings
(Formerly listed as: PICCADILLY W1, Burlington House including forecourt buildings and Piccadilly facade)
HISTORY: Originating as a mansion house and later becoming the Royal Academy of Arts. Built after 1660 for Sir John Denham, completed 1668 probably by Hugh May for First Earl of Burlington. It was remodelled, with courtyard buildings and screen added (demolished), in 1708-15 by James Gibbs for widow of the Second Earl of Burlington. Subsequent works include: 1715-22 refronting and interior remodelling, a triumphal arch (demolished), added by Colen Campbell for the Third Earl of Burlington; later C18 interior work and extensions by John Carr for the Duke of Portland; 1815-18 remodelling and extensions by Samuel Ware for Lord George Cavendish. In 1854 it was purchased by the Government; 1867 -70 the Main Galleries and Schools were added by Sydney Smirke for the Royal Academy of Arts; this was followed in 1872 by the Diploma Galleries and portico arcade, and Keeper's House of 1874, all by Smirke; 1876 interior alterations were carried out by E.M. Barry. In 1880-85, extensions and modifications were made by R. Norman Shaw; 1899-1900 Entrance Hall by T.G. Jackson; 1927 Library by Curtis Green, 1985-6 Library by H.T. Cadbury-Brown. The 1989-91 Sackler Galleries and other works are by Norman Foster.
Historical note: in the early C20 the building was the focus of a number of protests by suffragettes from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the militant suffrage organisation founded in Manchester in 1903. In 1913 WSPU members began a series of attacks on art galleries and museums in Britain. Suffragettes carrying flags and banners marched into the Royal Academy on 3 June 1913 and attempted to hold an impromptu meeting in one of the galleries before being removed by police. The following week there was an unsuccessful arson attempt, thought to be the work of suffragettes. In 4 May 1914 a number of pictures were damaged in separate attacks by suffragettes; Mary Aldham used a butcher’s cleaver to slash Sargent’s picture of Henry James in No 3 Gallery, and Gertrude Ansell caused similar damage to a painting of the Duke of Wellington by von Herkomer. Ten days later, Maude Kate Smith damaged Clausen’s Primavera. As a result of these attacks galleries closed to the public for a short time, and women were stopped from taking in bags, umbrellas and muffs when they reopened.
DETAILS, MATERIALS: the house is brick, Portland stone, and stucco lined as ashlar. The galleries are stock brick, red brick and stone dressings.
EXTERIOR: symmetrical in seven bays with flanking wings set forward. Three storeys and basements, with rusticated ground floor and ashlar principal storey and attic storey. Flanking two storey bays are treated in the same way as the main elevation. To the centre are three square headed doorways with pronounced but plain keystones, flanking sashes in similar openings. In front is a seven bay rusticated arcade with mask keystones to each opening, carrying a balustraded parapet with central panel inscribed: Royal Academy of Arts.
A three bay canopy on double brackets has a seated figure in relief to each flank. There are square headed sashes under mask keystone to flanking wings. The principal storey has an engaged Ionic order under modillion cornice, the base is a continuous storey band; there are sash windows in moulded architraves under alternating triangular and segmental pediments on brackets. There is an Ionic pilaster order to the flanking wings, between which is a Palladian window, and segmental pedimented alcoves to the single bay inner returns. The upper storey (1872-4) has an engaged Corinthian order of columns in pink granite, under a deep dentil cornice. There is a seven bay arcade of round arched alcoves with raised mask keystones, continuous moulded impost band and cill band, with similarly treated inner return bays. The alcoves display statues of artists: Phidias, Leonardo da Vinci, Flaxman, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, Reynolds, Wren and William of Wykeham, by H. Weekes, W. Calder Marshall, E. Stephens and J. Durham. There is a Pilaster order to the flanking wings, each with a Palladian loggia in pink granite, and to the right with a rear sash window in moulded architrave. The elevation terminates with a balustraded parapet. Rear: built 1815, and altered to harmonize with the south elevation, restored. It has a rusticated ground floor, upper storeys lined as ashlar. There is a first floor, tripartite balustraded window between Ionic pilasters, under segmental pediment with pulvinated frieze; there are sashes under alternating triangular and segmental pediments. The upper floor has near square sashes with glazing bars in moulded architraves.
INTERIOR: the entrance hall has seven bays with a double marble Doric screen to the stairs. There are round arched recesses with enriched soffits between Doric pilasters, and opposing enriched doorcases with raised and fielded panel doors, and central south doorcase. Corinthian columns support a rich entablature above an altered Greek key frieze. There are double depth panelled linings and shutter boxes to windows. The plaster ceiling (Jackson) has enriched relief panels.
The stone staircase has cantilevered upper flights, there are scrolled soffits, a cast iron balustrade of wreathed, foliate scrolled panels and a mahogany ramped rail. The lower flight is Barry reusing Ware's components, the upper flight is Ware, the flight to galleries is Smirke. There are enriched eared wall panels for Ricci canvasses; a plaster ceiling, a central rondel in a rectangular frame, with alternating acanthus and rosette mouldings, and Ricci canvas. There is a Corinthian screen of red marble columns, acanthus frieze to the north and bay leaf soffit, the flanking niches with statuary. A monumental marble arch provides entrance to the galleries. The south landing has enriched doorcases each with ogee bay leaf frieze and dentil cornice, that to centre with panelled linings. There are raised and fielded enriched panelled doors, that to centre is two leaved, some have Ware door furniture. Corresponding skirting mouldings are by Ware. The Reynolds Room, formerly a ballroom is by Ware. There is a pair of doorways, each in moulded architraves with ogee foliate frieze, and tall enriched dentil cornice. An Ionic marble chimneypiece has vertically banded columns imitating fluting and a steel grate. The ceiling is deeply enriched, coved and coffered with sunk enriched panels to coving, moulded ribs, central rosettes carrying chandeliers, enriched rinceau frieze, and modillion cornice. The skirtings are also enriched.
The Council Room is by Ware, created from an original stairwell. It has an enriched modillion cornice and coved ceiling with Ricci panel. Enriched doorcases, some with panelled linings, ogee and pulvinated friezes and dentil cornices, those to the enfilade are probably Campbell; similar door mouldings as those to the window linings. The marble chimneypiece is C18 from Somerset House, by Joseph Wilton, R.A., the grate is steel. Saloon, extant by 1715, is largely Campbell, modified by Carr and Ware. It is of three bays, windows with raised and fielded enriched moulded reveals, alternating with pedimented eared architraved pier glass panels, set forward on a moulded plinth. There are four opposing pedimented doorcases with reclining putto to each face, eared architraves, pulvinated scaled frieze, the mouldings richer than the pier glasses. A central pedimented Corinthian doorcase has a bay leaf frieze, embellished bead mouldings, and a pair of enriched raised and fielded doors. Picture panels, formerly for Pellegrini paintings, now blank, are each in richly moulded eared architraves under scrolled swan neck pediments flanking a central shell, carrying oak leaf swags; lateral husked garlands, acanthus scrolled base carrying oak leaf garlands. The ceiling is coved, a central panel is probably by Kent, with a pulvinated frieze with enriched modillion cornice. There are plain and enriched skirtings
Secretary's Room, by Campbell and Ware, has enriched doorcases each with pulvinated bay leaf frieze, dentil cornice, and raised and fielded panelled doors, that to north has an enriched ogee frieze and modillion cornice with Ware door furniture. There is a flat panelled ceiling with enriched guilloche mouldings and a panel painted on plaster, probably by Kent. A white marble Ionic chimneypiece has a steel and brass grate. There is enriched skirting.
General Assembly Room, formerly the State Dining Room, is by Campbell, remodelled by Ware and altered by Shaw. A screen of engaged Ionic fluted columns flanks a round arched architrave with plain spandrel and a pair of raised and fielded mahogany doors. There are pilasters at the corners of the room and inserted cherrywood cabinets; moulded dado rail, grey marble chimneypiece, coved plaster ceiling with robust brackets at the angles, painted ceiling panels with moulded ribs, and an anthemion frieze with a dentil cornice.
A barrel vaulted corridor, probably by Shaw, has pulvinated bay leaf ribs, moulded doorcases and raised and field panelled doors. An office to the north (P3.1) has a marble chimneypiece with pulvinated panels and enriched skirting.
West staircase, Shaw. South landing doorcases, each with eared architrave, pulvinated frieze, those to east and west in panelled linings, that to south pedimented. Raised and fielded panelled mahogany doors. Gallery screen of Ionic marble columns, wrought iron foliate balustrade, coved ceiling with bay leaf panel. Stairwell ceiling shallow coffered barrel vault over modillion cornice. Stone open well stair, with bowed half landing, iron balustrade, part vase panels, part foliate as upper gallery. Members' W.C. Fine range of three blue and white C19 ceramic bowls, C19 W.C. in mahogany case.
West staircase, by Shaw. The south landing doorcases have eared architraves and pulvinated friezes, and those to east and west are in panelled linings, that to south is pedimented. The doors are raised and fielded panelled mahogany. There is a gallery screen of Ionic marble columns, wrought iron foliate balustrade and coved ceiling with bay leaf panel. The stairwell ceiling is a shallow coffered barrel vault over a modillion cornice. The stone open well stair has a bowed half landing and iron balustrade, part vase panels, part foliate, as at the upper gallery.
The members' W.C. has a fine range of three blue and white C19 ceramic bowls, and a C19 W.C. in a mahogany case.
Friends' Room, formerly library, closed for refurbishment. 
The Refreshment Room, now restaurant, is by Shaw. This is of three bays and two bays, with a central arcade. Arches with panelled linings frame three Palladian windows flanked by fluted Ionic pilasters. A pair of south windows are similarly treated. There is a panelled dado and decorated spandrels: Spring Driving Away Winter, 1902 by Fred Appleyard; Autumn 1898 by Harold Speed; and the north wall: Burlington House Interior-Exterior, 1985-6 by Leonard Rosoman. The Main Galleries to the rear are a series of toplit galleries arranged in Beaux Arts manner, radiating from central octagon, based on the rotunda of Museo Pio-Clementi, The Vatican, 1769-74 by Simonetti. Gallery IX was rebuilt by Aston Webb after bomb damage in 1917, and the Lecture Room was restored after a fire in 1997.
The Weston Rooms, formerly South Rooms, and Architecture Room, are by Shaw. The octagon is under a glazed dome of fishscale panes. There are vine leaf ribs to the spandrels and four opposing polished stone round arched openings, with scroll keystones and polished stone paterae. Each face of the wall has a sunk hemispheric niche with a bust. The galleries are linked by monumental oak doorcases, some pedimented, some with sliding doors. There are enriched coved ceilings, toplit, with rib mouldings, variously oak leaf, vine leaf, maple leaf, and floral and fruit trails, some with an enriched frieze. Gallery III, has four bays, an enriched frieze and cornice on angel corbels, maple leaf ribs to the coved ceiling, and pedimented oak doorcases. The Weston Rooms, comprising large and small south rooms, have two-leaf mahogany doors in eared architraves with pulvinated friezes; those connecting galleries have sliding doors. There is a coved ceiling with low relief geometric plaster panels. The Architecture Room has paired mahogany doors, some with paterae, panelled coving, and laurel leaf moulded ribs.
The Schools are in the basement and to rear, and include the Cast Corridor by Smirke, 1860s, to house George III's cast sculpture collection.
This list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
Listing NGR: TQ2919780562
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Hutchinson, S, History of the Royal Academy, (1986)
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: London I - The Cities of London and Westminster, (1973), 622
'Survey of London' in The Parish of Westminster Part 2 North of Piccadilly: Volumes 31 and 32 , (1963), 390-429
Report in ‘The Times’, 5 May, 1914, accessed 19/03/2018 from http://www.jssgallery.org/Letters/Notes/The_Times_May_5_1914.htm
Donald Insall Associates, Royal Academy of Arts: Conservation Plan for Burlington House, Galleries and the Royal Academy School Buildings, 1998,
English Heritage, Westminster Print Collection, Piccadilly, 3, 4, 4b.
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing