Sir Charles Saumarez Smith is to join Blain|Southern as Senior Director of the gallery. The appointment was announced today 27 July 2018. The Royal Academy announced on Twitter that, “Charles Saumarez Smith, our Secretary and Chief Executive, is to step down at the end of 2018. Charles joined the RA in 2007, and since then we’ve experienced one of the most successful periods in our history.”
Charles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit our artists – Blain|Southern
Saumarez Smith was previously Director of the National Gallery, 2002 to 2007; and the National Portrait Gallery, 1994 to 2002. In a statement today he said: ‘I have known Harry Blain and Graham Southern ever since they took the lease on Burlington Gardens for Haunch of Venison. I greatly respect their work and that of the artists they represent, several of whom are RAs. I am very much looking forward to working with them all, using my experience to build upon Blain|Southern’s achievements.’
In a joint statement, Harry Blain and Graham Southern said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Charles to the gallery. Having headed up three of the most prominent art institutions in the UK, if not the world, Charles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit our artists, the gallery programme and external exhibitions worldwide.’
Sir Charles Saumarez Smith was educated at Marlborough and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a scholar and got a double first in History and History of Art. After graduating, he spent a year at Harvard University as a Henry Fellow studying at the Fogg Art Museum and then returned to the Warburg Institute as a postgraduate student.
In 1979, he was elected Christie’s Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge and, in 1982, he joined the staff of the Victoria and Albert Museum as an Assistant Keeper with special responsibility for V&A/RCA MA in the History of Design. In 1990, he was appointed Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1994, he was appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery and, in 2002, Director of the National Gallery.
In 2007, Sir Charles was appointed Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts, where he has concentrated on the renovation of the Keeper’s House in 2013 and the major redevelopment of Burlington Gardens for the RA’s 250th anniversary in 2018, including a major fund-raising campaign and successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
He is a Professor of Cultural History at Queen Mary University of London and a Trustee of the Garden Museum.
In 2008, Charles was awarded a CBE and was knighted in 2018 for his service to the arts.