RWA Permanent collection (Max McClure)
Photograph: Max McClure

Ellen Sharples, benefactor of the Academy, bequeathed her large collection of paintings to the Academy in 1849. These paintings, together with many paintings given to the Academy by its artist members during the latter part of the nineteenth century, formed the beginnings of the RWA Permanent Collection. In the 1920s a number of these paintings were loaned to the City Art Gallery and in 1930 they were sold to the City.

In 1941 Augusta Talboys, an artist member, left a sum of money to the Academy so that the interest may be used to purchase works of art by artist members. These works of art now exceed 1000 and form the substantial part of our growing collection.

Latest additions to the Permanent Collection are Diploma Works donated by every new member and a gift of 12 works from the Arnolfini Trust.

Over the years, a number of paintings, sculptures and other works have been donated or bequeathed to the Academy by generous members and supporters. Further works from the collection are on display in the RWA galleries periodically throughout the year.

Using the Online Archive

The online archive exemplifies 200 of our most important works from the multitude of gems that are held within the collection as a whole.

Five main groups introduce the selection contained within this archive. You can search for works via:
name: by artist
object: by medium
date: by overall list or decade
title: by artwork title
gallery view: a clickable selection of thumbnail images of those entries currently available online.

Many of the artworks on view also have an accompanying statement which reveals personal and insightful details about both the processes and contexts surrounding these individual works, many of which were written by the artists themselves.

If you would like any further information about the permanent collection, or to arrange a viewing please email us or call us on 0117 973 5129.

Enter the archive

The permament collection archive was researched by Ivan Eastwood and Lucy Cox, designed and built by Ivan Eastwood.

University of Bristol Collaborative Research Project

In Spring 2013 the RWA collaborated with the University of Bristol History of Art Department to deliver a collaborative study unit utilising the RWA's permanent collection. For more information on this project please visit our learning pages.