Royal Academy of Arts

The 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts is marked by a set of stamps issued on June 5.

Royal Mail specially commissioned works of art by six current Royal Academicians, several of which give a personal impression of the organisation’s famous Summer Exhibition, which has been held every year since 1769.

Founded in 1768 by King George III, the RA is an independent, privately funded institution, with charitable status, led by eminent artists and architects, whose aim is to promote the visual arts. It has an elected membership limited to 80 at any one time.

Based at Burlington House on Piccadilly in London, it has its own art collection and library, and offers a three-year postgraduate art course with free tuition to carefully selected students.

Although in its earlier days it was reluctant to embrace modern art, it has now become a champion of all types of media, and the stamp designs reflect its membership today.

The stamps were printed in lithography by International Security Printers, and are available in three vertically se-tenant pairs. No artistic notes have been released about the featured artwork.

1st class Summer Exhibition by Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry is an English artist and author best known for his ceramic vases, tapestries and a penchant for cross-dressing. The Turner Prize winner in 2003, he is co-ordinating this year’s Summer Exhibition.

1st class Queen of the Sky by Fiona Rae

Fiona Rae is a Hong Kong-born British artist known for her abstract paintings, described by one critic as ‘alien dreamscapes’. She was appointed Professor of Painting at the RA in 2011.

£1.25 St Kilda: The Great Sea Stacs by Norman Ackroyd

Norman Ackroyd is an English artist known principally for his work with aquatint (an intaglio printmaking technique) but also watercolour paintings, specialising in landscapes. He was appointed Professor of Etching at the University of Arts in 1994.

£1.25 Inverleith Allotments & Edinburgh Castle by Barbara Rae

Barbara Rae is a Scottish landscape painter and printmaker, known for abstract works featuring intense bursts of colour, achieved using unmixed acrylic paints. She was elected to the RA in 1996.

£1.55 Queuing at the RA by Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare is a British/Nigerian artist known for his works on brightly coloured wax fabric, exploring themes such as colonialism and globalisation. With a physical disability that has left one side of his body paralysed, he uses assistants to create works under his direction.

£1.55Saying Goodbye by Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin is an English artist who works in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and needlework, often with confessional themes. Having come to fame as a wild child among the ‘young British artists’ of the 1980sand 1990s, she was appointed Professor of Drawing at the RA in 2011.


The presentation pack, written by Dr Gilda Williams, examines the origins, history and activities of the Royal Academy of Arts, along with its notable members. Stamps cards and a first day cover are available as usual.


Set of 6 stamps   £6.94

Presentation pack   £7.45

Stamp cards    £2.70

First day cover   £8.75



The RA might be an elite organisation, but it is a venerable and influential one


These specially commissioned works by renowned artists have variety and dynamism


Modern art should grab the attention of anyone who sees it, but will it appear in our mail?