- The French Academy was established in Paris in 1648 to prevent the city's guild from placing restrictions on artists. The founding members (the Le Nain brothers, Laurent de la Hyre, Charles Lebrun, and others) petitioned Louis XIV, then a child, for permission to establish said institution. Anne of Austria, the king's mother and regent, favored the suppression of guilds, so permission was granted. The purpose of the academy was to provide art instruction for students, live models to draw from, and lectures by specialists. In 1655 the king allocated a stipend for the academy's upkeep and gave its members the use of the Collège Royal de l'Université as headquarters. In the following year, the headquarters were moved into the Louvre Palace, and in 1661 a dictatorship was established under minister Jean Baptiste Colbert and Lebrun, who by now had become painter to the king. All artists in the king's service were required to join the academy or lose their privileges, and the king's tastes were imposed upon them. The basis for the academy's teachings now relied on Nicolas Poussin 's views that painting must appeal to reason, it must be intellectual, and cater to the well educated. Nature should not be imitated but improved upon, and only noble subjects with dignified figures and gestures should be rendered. With this, the original purpose of the establishment of the academy to provide artistic freedom was unfortunately lost.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.
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