The Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (French Academy of Painting and Sculpture)—perhaps the single most influential art institution in history—governed the arts in France for more than 150 years, from its founding in 1648 until its abolition in 1793. Christian Michel's sweeping study presents an authoritative, in-depth analysis of the Académie’s history and legacy.
The Académie Royale assembled nearly all of the important French artists working at the time, maintained a virtual monopoly on teaching and exhibitions, enjoyed a priority in obtaining royal commissions, and deeply influenced the artistic landscape in France. Yet the institution remains little understood today: all commentary on it, during its existence and since its abolition, is based on prejudices, both favorable and critical, that have shaped the way the institution has been appraised. This book takes a different approach. Rather than judging the Académie Royale, Michel unravels existing critical discourse to consider the nuances and complexities of the academy’s history, reexamining its goals, the shifting power dynamics both within the institution and in the larger political landscape, and its relationship with other French academies and guilds.
Christian Michel is professor of art history at the Université de Lausanne.
424 pages 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches 75 color and 73 b/w illustrations, 2 tables ISBN 978-1-60606-535-8 paperback
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