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About the R.S.M.A.

Britain is an island nation having over 6,000 miles of coastline and a maritime heritage second to none. Naturally this national association with the sea has created a strong tradition of marine art. The Royal Society of Marine Artists was founded in 1939 and since then has been the focal point for much of Britain’s finest marine art. The founder members were already well-established artists, men and women in middle age, so that the Society can fairly claim to represent British marine art of the whole of the twentieth century, including many of its best-known names, such as Montague Dawson, Claude Muncaster, Charles Pears, Keith Shackleton, Norman Wilkinson and Harold Wyllie. The Society maintains a Diploma Collection of some eighty paintings which consists of works by past and present members.

Today the RSMA has a vigorous membership numbering some forty-two artists. The Society’s common theme is the sea, and the members’ work is as wide and varied as the subject. Traditions of plein-air, topographical, historical, still-life, portrait, and abstract painting are all welcomed. The range of media is also wide, including oil painting, watercolours, acrylics and pastels, as well as drawings, prints and the occasional sculpture.

The annual exhibition at the Mall Gallery in London is open to non-members, submitted work being subject to selection by jury. There is usually one other all-Society exhibition each year, and individual members participate in many other shows. New members are elected to the Society from an Associate level, which is itself elected. The membership is drawn from every region of the United Kingdom, and from overseas.

The Society is a registered charity with a remit to encourage and promote marine art, and many of the members are active in teaching, lecturing and demonstrating their art. Exhibitions are often linked with foundations such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the King George’s Fund for Sailors, the Jubilee Trust for the Disabled, and other charities. Aside from this, the Society has many connections with the maritime world, including the Royal Navy, the National Maritime Museum at both Greenwich and Falmouth, shipping industry, maritime publishing, and sailing interests.

There is a Lay-membership for friends and supporters particularly interested in the Society’s work, which for an annual subscription offers an exclusive preview evening at the Show, free admission throughout, the Society’s newsletter, and a prize draw.

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