Britain’s oldest art school, a 250-year-old institution that offers postgraduates a free three-year art course, has received its biggest donation ever.
The Royal Academy of Arts said on Monday that the £ 10million gift from Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing would go towards the restoration and renewal of a historic central London campus that many people don’t realize not even existence.
The RA Schools were founded in 1769 and have taught artists from JMW Turner, John Constable and William Blake to more recent graduates Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Catherine Story and Eddie Peake.
It occupies an underground space between the main RA buildings, Burlington House, on Piccadilly, and 6 Burlington Gardens, which face Mayfair. It has the particularity, undoubtedly of being unique, in that it offers three years of free artistic studies. This year, 767 people applied for the 17 places offered.
Christopher Le Brun, president of RA, said the school was one of the founding goals of the organization and that the donation of money would ensure its sustainability for the next 250 years.
He said the artists and architects who run RA want the educational aspect of its operations to be better known. “The general perception is that we are a collection of exhibition galleries with the most wonderful exhibition program you can imagine… the academy as an academy had sort of disappeared from view.”
The RA has put the needed upgrades – which cover everything from new plumbing and electricity to providing a better library – at £ 15million.
The gift comes from a charitable fund in the name of Julia and Hans Rausing, one of Britain’s richest men. It hit the headlines in 2012 when the body of his first drug addict wife, Eva, was discovered under several yards of quilts, blankets, tarpaulins and TV screens in their sprawling Chelsea home.
His body had been lying there for about two months. The recluse Rausing hid his wife, he said, because he couldn’t face her death. He was given a suspended prison sentence for preventing the legal burial of his body.
Rausing married Christie’s art expert Julia Delves Broughton in 2014. The couple’s charity fund has awarded over 220 grants totaling over £ 185million since its inception.
Rebecca Salter, guardian of the RA, said the Rausing gift would enable the restoration and renewal of the campus: “This is not shamelessly an expansion of the RA schools, we are small, we are free and we will. to stay. “
The RA has operated on the same principles for 250 years, with funds raised through the annual summer exhibition going to provide the school’s free arts education.
Kira Freije, who graduated in 2016, said the AR course gives you the opportunity to fail as an artist and hand yourself over, “I graduated feeling like I had the right attitude and ambition to pursue whatever comes next. “
The plan is to start work in 2021 and keep students in school as it unfolds around them in phases.