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The 1872 Summer Exhibition and Alfred Morrison

Dakers, Caroline (2016) The 1872 Summer Exhibition and Alfred Morrison. In: A Year's Art The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 1769-2016, 29-30 September 2016, Paul Mellon Centre Bedford Square London.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Dakers, Caroline

The 1872 Summer Exhibition offered the usual ‘extraordinary medley of inharmonious forces’ (Henry James) but it would seem this suited the almost schizophrenic taste of the wealthy collector Alfred Morrison. He bought two very different paintings, Leighton’s romantic ‘Summer Moon’ and H.W.B.Davis’s cattle painting, ‘A Panic’.

Unlike his father, the self-educated millionaire merchant James Morrison, Alfred approached the Summer Exhibitions with confidence, patronising the same small number of artists whether or not they were in favour at the Academy. John Brett, for example, was his favourite; while the Academy regularly rejected Brett or hung his work badly, Morrison eagerly snapped up his work. In 1872 Brett was again hung badly, but for the first time he held an exclusive viewing in his studio of all his available works before the exhibition. Morrison bought five.

H.W.B.Davis’s animal paintings were regularly accepted and Morrison acquired a number before 1872. However, he may have agreed to buy ‘A Panic’ in advance as such an enormous canvas, sixteen feet long, would attract few buyers. His support was consequently significant, as the impact of the painting led directly to Davis’ election as ARA later in the year.
Although Morrison regularly bought at the Academy he had not (unlike his father) been invited to the prestigious dinner. The club where he mixed with his artist friends was the Savile, not Leighton’s Atheneum. His purchase of ‘Summer Moon’ may reflect a different ambition, fuelled by anxiety over his status as a nouveau-riche collector.

In 1878 Leighton became President of the Royal Academy and Davis was elected RA; through one or the other Morrison at last received his first invitation to dinner. Ten years later he was included among the ‘great and the good’ in Brooks’ painting ‘Private view of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy 1888’; his status as a ‘gentleman’ confirmed by the Academy.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 29 September 2016
Related Websites: http://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/whats-on/forthcoming/a-years-art-the-royal-academy-summer-exhibition-1769-2016
Event Location: Paul Mellon Centre Bedford Square London
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 11:30
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 11:30
Item ID: 10952
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/10952

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