August is a quiet month in the city, so little to blog about. However, on Thursday 12 August, 31 members of the Company and their guests met on a sunny day in the courtyard of the Burlington House for a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts annual Summer Exhibition.
The Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest “open submission” exhibition, which means that anyone can enter their work to be considered for inclusion. It has been run every year since 1769, and each year a different Royal Academician coordinates the exhibition, this time 81 yr old David Remfry RA.
As always, there were a huge number of works on display and an eclectic mix of sculpture, painting, textiles and architectural drawings and models, in a wide range of styles from naturalistic to abstract.
The artists ranged from well-known Royal Academicians to unknown but talented amateurs. While some were “pleasing to the eye”, others portrayed challenging and thought-provoking subjects. A plastic packing case on the gallery floor, which appeared to be left over from transporting an exhibit, turned out to be a work of art itself.
After an hour and a half we gathered again in the courtyard of Burlington House to make our way to the Reform Club.
A ten minute leisurely walk later we reached the Reform Club, founded in 1836 and immortalised in Jules Verne’s “Around the world in 80 days”. The clubhouse, based on the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, was designed by architect Sir Charles Barry. It was intended to be the largest and most spectacular in London and was completed in 1841.
Once up the steps into the Saloon we entered the “Strangers’ Room”, for many years the only place in the Club where members could entertain non-members. With its red and gold walls, it is a warm room overlooking Pall Mall and now used by members for a light lunch. It is closed to members during August, so we had this spacious private dining room to ourselves.
After lunch, the party was divided into two groups for a tour of the Club, led by the Master and Mistress, both of whom are members of the Club. The tour included some history of the formation of the Club as a break-away group of more radical Liberals and Whigs from the traditional members of the party who favoured Brooks’s Club.
The day concluded with tea and coffee in the saloon, and a welcome rest after going “Around the Club in 80 minutes”.