An Invitation from the Royal Academy

This piece was first published in William Roberts, Five Posthumous Essays and Other Writings (Valencia, 1990). © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society.

In a letter dated February 1, 1979, the Exhibitions Secretary of the Academy suggested a retrospective exhibition in the Diploma Galleries.

'We anticipate that such an exhibition should contain between sixty and eighty works, and cover all periods of your lengthy and very distinguished career as one of England's most outstanding painters of this century.'

A summary of W.R.'s reply is pinned to the letter:

'In 1965 the Arts Council arranged at the Tate Gallery a very complete retrospective show of my work; collecting examples from Galleries and private owners. Even bringing over from Canada the large war painting of a Gas attack at Ypres.

In the matter of retrospective exhibitions I don't think I want to repeat that 1965 effort. However I thank you very much for your proposition . . . very flatttering . . . etc.

It was also true that W.R. had less than a year to live.

[John David Roberts]

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