Giovanni Battista Cipriani

Design for the Illumination for the King’s Birthday


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 460 x 605 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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The Italian Cipriani was one of the earliest exponents in England of the neo-classical style. He was greatly admired for the clarity of his draughtsmanship, and collaborated with the architect Sir William Chambers on the interior designs for several of Chambers's buildings. Both he and Chambers were Founder Members of the Royal Academy of Arts which was set up in 1768. This design, actually devised by Chambers, is for the illumination of the front of the Academy's building, an annual event to celebrate the King's birthday. It represents the Academy's interests - Architecture on the left, Sculpture on the right and Painting in the centre. The execution of the painting was a communal effort between Academy members.

Gallery label, September 2004