- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Online publication date: December 2014
- Print publication year: 2014
- Online ISBN: 9781107450271
The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was founded as a private art gallery in 1805, and took over the lease of publisher John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, London. Its rich and noble subscribers (including the Prince of Wales, later George IV) patronised exhibitions of contemporary works, and also lent items for shows of Old Masters. The Institution also took in art students, and was a very popular public attraction in London: Jane Austen was among the many visitors from around the country. This 1860 book by Thomas Smith, a London historian, describes the founding and development of the Institution, with notices of its regular exhibitions and of special events such as the memorial dinner for Sir Joshua Reynolds. This is a fascinating account of a popular gallery in the first half of the nineteenth century, and of the tastes of its patrons and visitors.