History & Diploma Collection

The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers was originally known as the Society of Painter-Etchers and was founded by Francis Seymour Haden in 1880 in reaction to the Royal Academy of Arts' reluctance to exhibit etchings and engravings. We received our Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1888 and became the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. Although we changed our name in 1991 to embrace a broader range of printmaking practices, we have retained the abbreviation RE to this day as both our identity and the qualifying letters that follow an elected member's name.


We are extremely proud of our history with eminent past members including Graham Sutherland, Stanley William Hayter, Edward Bawden, Julian Trevelyan and Michael Rothenstein.


However, printmaking is a dynamic and protean pursuit and the current membership contains some of the most innovative and creative artists working in every print-based medium imaginable.




Since its inception, every member has had one piece of work selected, providing a snapshot of the artist's portfolio at the moment of his or her election. The significance of this collection increases annually and it is available to view at its home in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.