The Courtauld will renovate the top floor of the gallery, beginning in autumn, 2018. They anticipate closing the gallery for about two years, though the other activities of the Institute will continue unabated. The location of the Royal Academy's exhibitions will be restored and updated. Below is how it looked in the late 18th century. Currently the room is divided by walls into smaller areas for exhibition.
Don't expect the Courtauld to return to the old method of hanging work from floor to ceiling however.
On lower floors, many of the rooms retain their original features from the days of the Royal Academy. The pictures above and below show the former Ante-Room and Library of the RA.
The photos below show the Ante Room shared by the Royal Academy and the Society of Antiqueries 200 years ago. The ceiling design by Biaggio Cipriani (1727-1785) portrays Apollo surrounded by the symbols of the Zodiac.
Below, a portrait of Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), c. 1812, by William Beechey (1753-1839) hung over one of a pair of D-shaped commodes of inlaid mahogany, 1788, by Samuel Cooper and John Savage for Gillows of Lancaster.
The portrait of Charles and Captain John Sealy, 1773, by Tilly Kettle (1735-86), was painted in Calcutta.
The room below was the Council and Assembly Room when the Royal Academy was housed here in Somerset House. The ceilings are copies of the original by Benjamin West (1738-1820) and Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), now in Burlington House, Piccadilly, the present home of the RA. West, born in America, was the second president of the RA , and Kauffman was one of the two women founding members.
My two posts on the Courtauld Institute and Gallery barely give a hint of the riches to be found here -- not to mention a nice tea room and of course, the gift shop, where I cannot avoid a stop every time I visit. Get there soon or you will have to wait a while, unless they concoct a scheme to show some of the paintings elsewhere in this vast building while they return the upper floor to something like its former appearance.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author