The Accademia di San Luca, founded in Rome in the late sixteenth century, was an association of artists who recognised in drawing the founding principle of unity of the three arts: painting, sculpture and architecture. Artists of any nationality were free to attend. In Paris, on the other hand, right from the beginning, academies were created from a State promoted company designed to train the craftsmen who would work on government contracts and large-scale production. The Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture was founded in 1648, and the Académie Royale d'Architecture in 1671. In addition to the new schools of Paris, in 1666 a branch was also opened in Rome, where the French students would complete their training by studying the antique and modern masterpieces. The opening of this branch in Rome intensified the already lively relations between the three academies and artists.
The exhibition set up in the building of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, in conjunction with the exhibition held at Villa Medici, aims to document the development of such relations.
The exhibition path starts from the mid-seventeenth century and reaches the early nineteenth century, the two phases in which the academies were at their closest, almost on the verge of fusing together. In 1677, thanks to the agreement established at the time by Pope Innocent XI and King Louis XIV, an attempt was made to twin the Accademia di San Luca with the two French academies, which then never came to fruition. At the end of this period, the idea of unification resurfaced when in a world radically reconfigured by the Revolution of 1789 - in a city without a pope, and subject to the direct rule of Napoleon - in 1810, once again, a proposal was put forward to create a great and unique arts school in Rome, uniting the Accademia di San Luca and the Académie de France. The proposal was to set up home in the convent of Trinita dei Monti next to Villa Medici, home of the French Institute since 1804, in order to make the Colle del Pincio an acropolis of the arts.
The comparison between Italian and French artists and architects is told through the exhibition of paintings, figure drawings, sculptures, bas-reliefs and architectural drawings prepared for competitions, or donated on the occasion of the artists entering the academic body or simply left in wills.
In the staircase designed by Borromini for Palazzo Carpegna, headquarters of the Accademia di San Luca since 1934, are presented more than one hundred works related to academic competitions, subdivided into Clement (from 1702) and Balestra (from 1768) Competitions, which marked the occasion in which the three arts were pitted against one another, ensuring a large number of artists took part from various cultural and geographical backgrounds. In the staircase, christened the Tower of Learning for the exhibition, visitors can follow in chronological order, bend after bend, the results of the various competitions and compare the work of French artists with some proposals by Italian ones. The path continues at the Galleria Accademica where, alongside the works selected for the exhibition, attention will be drawn to sculptures, paintings and drawings from the permanent collection connected to the exchange between Rome and Paris.
13 october 2016- 13 January 2017
Palazzo Carpegna- p.zza Accademia San Luca, 77 Roma
monday -saturday, 10-19, admission free