Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture

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"Académie Royale" redirects here; not to be confused with the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts or the Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts, both in Brussels.
A meeting of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture at the Louvre (c. 1712–1721) by Jean-Baptiste Martin
The Embarkation for Cythera, 1717, was Antoine Watteau's reception piece for the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.

The Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture), Paris, was the premier art institution in France in the eighteenth century.


In January of 1648, while acting as regent, Anne of Austria received a request on behalf of artists who were affiliated with the crown or aristocracy; the artists, led by painter Charles Le Brun, wanted independence from the monopoly control of the guild, which fined the artists or seized their work. The painters and sculptors petitioned Louis XIV and the Queen Regent to form a new organization, they wanted to found an academy that would be for the visual arts what Académie Française was for French literature; this was to become the Académie Royale.[1][2] It was modelled on Italian examples, such as the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Paris already had the Académie de Saint-Luc, which was a city artist guild like any other Guild of Saint Luke; the purpose of this academy was to professionalize the artists working for the French court and give them a stamp of approval that artists of the St. Luke's guild did not have.

According to the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, the academy was a result of "squabbles that arose between the Master Painters and Sculptors of Paris, and Painters protected by the King." In response to harassment from the other painters, a group of royal painters formed a plan for an academy, and obtained a ruling from the Conseil d'Etat for it to be established.[3]

The Academy had 12 founders, 9 painters and 3 sculptors:[1]

Directorship of Jean-Baptiste Colbert[edit]

In 1661, it came under the control of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, King Louis XIV's chief adviser, who, working through Charles Le Brun, ensured that the arts were devoted to the glorification of the King. A "royal style" was enforced which in practice meant a classical style.[4]

Directorship of Charles Le Brun[edit]

The Académie experienced its greatest power during the involvement of Charles Le Brun[5]. Over the course of 20 years Le Brun occupied many positions within the Académie. Beginning in 1655 he was appointed official chancellor of the Académie[6], he then became rector and chancellor (1668-83), and then reigned as director of the academy from (1683-90)[6]. Despite his short seven-year reign as director, Le Brun controlled a majority of decisions within the Académie. In February, 1675 he ordered that no decision would be validated in the academy without his approval.[6]

Le Brun’s involvement in the Académie and his position of first painter to the king, allowed him to dictate all painting, sculpture, and tapestry expectations. Specifically, for projects such as the Grande Galerie du Louvre, Académie artists found themselves carrying out designs originated by Le Brun. In addition, Le Brun admitted more members into the Académie then ever before. Between 1664-1683 107 artists became members of the Académie. In comparison, 89 artists were admitted between 1707-1720, and the 57 admitted in 1735-54[5]. Under Le Brun’s influence the Académie became more accessible than ever before.

Le Brun’s relationship with the Royal court allowed him the position of director after death of Jean Baptiste Colbert in 1683[7]. While still extremely influential Le Brun began to lose power due to the rise of Pierre Mignard, in the years before his death in 1690.


On August 8, 1793, the Académie was suspended by the revolutionary National Convention, when the latter decreed the abolition of "toutes les académies et sociétés littéraires patentées ou dotées par la Nation".

Later history[edit]

It was later revived as the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture. The Académie is also responsible for the Académie de France in the villa Médicis in Rome (founded in 1666) which allows promising artists to study in Rome. In 1816, it was merged with the Académie de Musique (Academy of Music, founded in 1669) and the Académie d'Architecture (Academy of Architecture, founded in 1671), to form the Académie des Beaux-Arts, one of the five academies of the Institut de France.


From 1875 to 1892 the French art historian Anatole de Montaiglon published the minutes of the academy in ten volumes with the title Procès-verbaux de l'Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Baetjer, Katharine (2019). French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century Through the Revolution. p. 15. ISBN 1588396614. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  2. ^ Janson 1995, p. 629.
  3. ^ Landois 2003.
  4. ^ Janson 1995, p. 593.
  5. ^ a b Brosnan 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Klingsöhr 1986, p. 556.
  7. ^ Myers 1992.


  • Brosnan, Kelsey (2016). "Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France". Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, vol. 15, no. 3 (16 October). doi:10.29411/ncaw.2016.15.3.16.
  • Burchard, Wolf (2016). The Sovereign Artist: Charles Le Brun and the Image of Louis XIV. London: Paul Holberton Publishing. ISBN 1911300059.
  • Janson, H.W. (1995). History of Art, 5th edition, revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500237018.
  • Klingsöhr, Cathrin (1986). "Die Kunstsammlung der "Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture" in Paris". Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte,vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 556–578. doi:10.2307/1482376.
  • Landois, Paul (2003). "Academy of Painting". The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Reed Benhamou. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library. Originally published in 1751 as "Académie de Peinture," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 1, pp. 56–57. Paris.
  • Myers, Frank (1992). "Review: Philip Ziegler. King Edward VIII: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991". Albion, vol. 24, no. 2 (Summer), pp. 367–369. doi:10.2307/4050859.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′26.22″N 2°20′12.96″E / 48.8572833°N 2.3369333°E / 48.8572833; 2.3369333