Varnishing Day – RA Summer Exhibition 2019


This year is the 251st Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.  There were over 16,000 entries – a record number of applicants.

It was Varnishing Day on Friday, 31 May. This is the day, traditionally, that artists put the finishing touches to their work before the exhibition opened to the public. 

Now it’s a joyous celebration starting with the gathering of exhibitors in the courtyard, accompanied by a fabulous and very enthusiastic steel band.  The courtyard was filled with towering and imposing Thomas Houseago sculptures as a welcome party.

The procession to St James’s church with a special service followed, then back to the RA to see the artwork hung for the first time. 

There was a buzz of excitement as artists scanned the walls to find their work.