The Royal Academy was formed to rival the Society of Artists after an unseemly leadership dispute between two leading architects, Sir William Chambers and James Paine. Paine won, but Chambers vowed revenge and used his strong connections with the King to create a new artistic body, the Royal Academy, in 1768. It was formally launched the following year.
Its forty founder members, all admitted on 10 December 1768, included a father/daughter combination (George Michael Moser and Mary Moser) and two sets of brothers (George Dance the Younger and Nathaniel Dance-Holland, and Paul and Thomas Sandby).
Sir Joshua Reynolds was its first president, and Benjamin West its second.
The Academy runs a postgraduate art school and a research library. The Royal Academy Schools, the country’s oldest art school, is based in Burlington House. There are generally two exhibitions every year of work by Academy students.