Its latest exhibition, simply called Australia, features works from 146 artists and is described as the most comprehensive survey of Australian art to be shown outside the country.

However, the show has not been met with enthusiasm from all fronts, with some UK press offering scathing opinions

Landscape is the overarching theme of the exhibition, but there is also a wider sense of the country’s history, as culture and politics also go on display.

Director of Exhibitions Kathleen Soriano said the exhibition had been 23 years in the making, following her first visit to Australia.

“I couldn’t for the life of me understand why I hadn’t heard more about some of these artists,” she told media at an early viewing of the exhibition.

“I had known that indigenous artists would be shown to me in great wonder in the galleries, but I didn’t expect for one moment to encounter the likes of John Glover, Eugene von Guerard, Tom Roberts, (Arthur) Streeton and on, and on, and on.”

Britain’s last major Australian art exhibition was in the 1960s, but focused solely on contemporary work.

The current show, a collaboration between the Royal Academy and Australia’s National Gallery, spans from 1800 to the present day, and includes a variety of multi-media exhibits.

Among the most notable is Shaun Gladwell’s video Approach to Mundi Mundi, which is the first piece people see as enter the exhibition – the “contemporary punch”, as Soriano put it.

“I wanted the visitor to be placed right in the centre of Australia, to get that sense of texture and depth, to get that feeling of that long, endless straight road.”

Francesca Cubillo, the senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the National Gallery, noted the significance that a third of the work included was indigenous.

Rather than being exhibited as a token gesture, Cubillo told AAP the inclusion of such a significant portion reflected the change in Australian attitudes towards indigenous art, and the reality that it had a legitimate place in the fine art world.

The exhibition has so far received mixed reviews.

The Times gave it four out of five stars, noting that for most Brits, Rolf Harris was likely to be the only Australian artist they could name and that in itself was a reason to applaud the show.

Leading the criticism was The Guardian, which was particularly loathing of the more modern pieces.