Skip to main content


Art academies

Academies for painting were established across Europe during the 18th century although they first arose in Italy in the 16th century. They replaced and supplemented the medieval painters' guilds. The single most influential academy, the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, was founded in 1648.

An academy for painting (there were also similar institutions for sculpture, architecture and the other arts) was a centre for teaching, exhibiting and in many instances controlling patronage. The Royal Academy in London was founded in 1768.

Academic art – that is, the art which was promoted by the academies – tended to look to the precedent of ancient art and to 'classical' painters such as Raphael. History painting was regarded as the highest form of academic painting.