Key early members were James Abbott McNeill Whistler (although he soon resigned) Walter Sickert and Philip Steer. Others in the first show included Sir George Clausen, Stanhope Forbes and John Singer Sargent.

Initially avant-garde, the NEAC quickly became increasingly conservative and Sickert and Steer formed an ‘impressionist nucleus’ within it, staging their own show London Impressionists in 1889. NEAC remained important as a showcase for advanced art until 1911 when it was challenged by the Camden Town Group and London Group. It continued to be influential into the 1920s with artists such as Augustus John and Sir Stanley Spencer exhibiting.

It still exists, now preserving the impressionist tradition.