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Hutchison, Sidney C.

    Image Credit: Royal Academy

    Full Name: Hutchison, Sidney C.

    Other Names:

    • Sidney Charles Hutchison

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1912

    Date Died: 2000

    Place Born: St. Pancras, Camden, London, England, UK

    Place Died: Enfield, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom


    Historian of the (British) Royal Academy of Art. Hutchison was the son of Henry Hutchison, a carpenter, and Augusta Rose Timmons (Hutchison). His mother died in childbirth and Hutchison was raised by his grandparents and aunts. He won a scholarship to Holloway but quit in 1929 to work at the Royal Academy of Arts. At the Academy, he learned how to mount and document the increasing number of exhibitions the institution was launching at the Burlington House under the major British art historians. Among these were “Italian Art, 1200-1900” of 1930, “French Art, 1200-1900” in 1932 (curated by W. G. Constable, and Trenchard Cox) and the “Chinese Art” exhibition of 1935-1936 under Francis St. George Spendlove (b. 1897). An avid keyboardist his whole life, he was senior organist at St. Matthew’s Church, Westminster, between 1933-1937. Hutchison married Nancy Arnold Brindley (1911/12-1985) in 1937. Sensing a need to supplement his formal training in art, Hutchison began art history classes at London University. There he studied under some of the great expatriate art historians the University harbored from Nazi Germany. During World War II, Hutchison volunteered for the Royal Navy and served throughout the war, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, rising to the rank of lieutenant-commander. After the war, Hutchison returned to the Academy. In 1949 he was appointed the Academy’s librarian and in 1955 was named secretary of loan exhibitions. Hutchison soon became the de facto historian of the Academy. In 1956 he published The Homes of the Royal Academy. The following year he began lecturing out of the Extramural Department of the University of London (until 1968). His History of the Royal Academy, 1768-1968 appeared in 1968. The same year Hutchison was named secretary to the academy (succeeded Humphrey Brooke). During his tenure, the Academy mounted the great Turner exhibition in 1974, another on Pompeii in 1977, and “The Horses of San Marco” of 1981-82. He retired as Secretary in 1982 and died at Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield.Hutchison’s reputation is principally as an administrator. It was Hutchison, who, in 1977 launched the program of subscription support which brought the Royal Academy back to financial solvency. However, his scholarly articles included those for the Walpole Society Journal, Apollo, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Dictionary of National Biography.

    Selected Bibliography

    The History of the Royal Academy 1768-1968. London, Chapman & Hall, 1968; The Royal Academy Schools, 1768-1830. Glasgow, 1962; The Homes of the Royal Academy. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1956; and Reynolds, Graham. Royal Academy of Arts Bicentenary Exhibition 1768-1968. 2 vols. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1968.


    [obituaries:] Mullaly,Terence. “Sidney Hutchison: A carpenter’s Son whose Love of Art Led to Half a Century of Outstanding Work for the Royal Academy.” The Guardian (London) May 13, 2000, p. 22; Hayes, Colin. “Sidney Hutchison.” The Independent (London), May 11, 2000, p. 6.


    "Hutchison, Sidney C.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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