Sir Charles Saumarez Smith

August 3 2018

Image of Sir Charles Saumarez Smith

Picture: RA

I'm late to the news that Charles Saumarez Smith, the Secretary of the Royal Academy and former director of the National Gallery, has been given a knighthood. This news was announced on 10th June, only 5 days after AHN had called for him to receive such an honour, so we can conclude that HMQ is, indeed, a reader. Bravo Sir Charles; the award is thoroughly deserved, not least for helping transform the RA into the lithe and emphatic institution it is today.

And last week, Charles announced he would soon leave the RA to become a director at Blain Southern, contemporary art dealers in London. If he carries on matching his ties to the artwork with such flair, as above, I have no doubt he will be a success; as a former art dealer, I know these things. More here.

Finally, I was glad to see on his blog this reflection on current British politics, written during a visit to the Venice Biennale:

I now feel a slight sense of embarrassment as I approach the British pavilion in the Venice Biennale.   The Biennale started in 1895, the British pavilion was designed by Edwin Alfred Rickards, the architect of Methodist Central Hall, and opened in 1909.   We were given a central place in the Celesteville view of national competition in culture.   I no longer feel we deserve this with our insular retreat in Little Englandism and xenophobia and our determination to renounce our historic links and collaboration with neighbouring countries in Europe;  and I am glad to be able to say this when freedom of speech has been so stifled amongst all those in any way on the payroll of the state.

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