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Opening to the public on June 8, this annual jamboree of contemporary art has, since its inception in 1768, always provoked controversy.

Illustrated right, is an example of the sort of material which was wowing visitors more than a century ago and which still commands quite serious money today.

Entitled A Lullaby, this charming 2ft 2in x 3ft 10in (66cm x 1.17m) oil on canvas by Yorkshire artist John William Whiteley (1859-1936), was exhibited at the 1896 RA Exhibition. Its next public outing will be at the Olympia Fine Art & Antiques Fair in London from June 3 to 13 where it will be offered by the Bourne Gallery of Reigate (tel: 01737 241614) who will be asking £9500 for it.