École des Beaux-Arts


École des Beaux-Arts


The École was part of the Institut:
The École des Beaux-Arts (the school of Fine Arts) started in 1648 as the Académie Royale de peinture et de sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture) or short the Académie des Beaux-Arts (R88II,p387;iR3). Around 1862 it was called the École Impériale et Spéciale des Beaux-Arts (R31,p295). Since 1863 emperor Napoleon III granted the school independence from the government, then it got the name École des Beaux-Arts (iR3). Since 1968 it is called École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (iR3).
Around 1816 it became part of the Institut de France, which consists of 5 academies, including the Académie des Beaux-Arts (R3,p670). The Académie des Beaux-Arts consisted of the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, the Académie de musique (since 1669) and the Académie d’architecture (since 1671) (iR3). The Académie des Beaux-Arts provided education of free artists, that no longer were attached to guilds (R3,p660).
Some sources mention the École was founded in 1796 (R3,p660), others in 1816 (iR5). Other sources mention the Institut de France was founded in 1795 (iR5). The Institut de France is located in the building with the Dome (iR3), compare the picture of Renoir.
Since 1863/11/13, by imperial decree, the Académie (the Institut de France) lost control of the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de France in Rome. The government now appointed the employee’s.  (R59,p183;R60,p97;R5,p26;R3,p660). Still, the teachers from the École were mostly members of the Académie (R3,p660). Already in 1830 the Académie had lost privileges, but received them again in 1853 (R59,p182).
The École as part of the Institute de France was since 1816 situated in a a complex of buildings at the 14, Rue Bonaparte in Paris (iR3). The central building is called the Palais des Études in which Paul Delaroche made a mural of 27 meters (iR3).



Admission to the École des Beaux-Arts:
To become a pupil at the École des Beaux-Arts one had to pass an exam (R3,p660), a ‘morceau de réception’ (iR3). So mostly pupils studied before at a related studio. Renoir was admitted 1862/04/01 at the École (R31,p179). Before that and afterwards he attended Atelier Gleyre (R31,p294). Degas was registered 1855/04 and joined the atelier of Lamothe (R88II,p1001). One source mentions that Pissarro was registered in the autumn of 1855, when he had just arrived in Paris (R88II,p1001; Another source mentions it was the wish of his father to enrol at the École des Beaux-Arts, but as a compromise Camille followed private classes at Picot, Dagnan and Lehmann, starting ealry 1856, before enrolling Académie Suisse in 1857 (R116I,p106-108). (Was he to be allowed anyway as a foreigner, having the Danish nationality?). Seurat and Sisley also were admitted (iR3). Cézanne was rejected two times (iR3). Redon was rejected in 1862 (R88II,p1009). Women were admitted since 1897 (iR3).


The lessons at the École des Beaux-Arts:
(In the 19th century) the lessons at the École des Beaux-Art were based on strict imperatives, based on the Greek and Rome classics and the Italien Renaissance, also called Néo-Classicism or Academism. The pupils first had to draw after plasters (of classic sculptures), than after life models. First they had to draw parts of a body and only later the whole body. They also had to draw antique objects, such as vases, sandals, drapery, chairs and Greek columns. (iR23;iR3) The pupils followd cources in anatomy, perspective and theory (R3,p660). Only after a pupil mastered the drawing, they were teached to paint. And again they first had to do studies after making a composite painting. (iR3)
There was a hierarchy in genres; the primacy of drawing; systhematic study of drapes, nudes, etc.; the use of smooth, non-visible brushstrokes. (R88II,p197). 12 professors (7 painters and 5 sculpters) would teach on a monthly base in a strict classical way. The emphasis lay on religious, biblical, historical, mythological subjects or a theme from literature. The art-works had to depict moral lessons and / or patriotic grandeur. It was important to render the smallest details and to use a proper perspective.
Part of the study was copying old masters (at the Louvre). One had to receive a permission for this. Renoir received one in 1860+61+62+63+64 (R31,p294). There he copied works of Rubens, Fragonard and Boucher (1703-70) (R30,p9). Morisot copied in the Louvre in 1860, Degas in 1861 (R88II,p1007/8). They also could study a large collection of etchings (iR3;R31,p294). The École also collected art-works and historical books (iR3).
Since 1863/11/13 pupils had to be French and between 15 and 25 years (R59,p183;R60,p97; R5,p26;R3,p660). Since 1863/11/13 the Ecole began to appreciate originality (R59,p183;R60,p97;R5,p26;R3,p660).


Concours and exams at the École:
During the study there were several concours / exams held. Renoir did 1862/04/18 an exam for perspective drawing, depicting ‘four steps of a Classical temple, of the shaft of a Doric Column and of an oblique inclined stone block’ (R31,p295). 1862/08/16 Renoir did a composition exam, depicting ‘Joseph sold by his brothers’ (R31,p295). 1863/03/21 Renoir did a figure drawing examination (R31,p295). 1863/08/14 he again did a composition exam, depicting ‘Ulysses in the palace of Alcinous’ (R31,p295). 1863/10/07 Renoir did a winter semester examination (R31,p295). The winnars received prices and medals. Mythological, historical or Christian themes often had to be depicted in these concours. (R3,p660).


Prix de Rome:
The most important concours was for the Prix du Rome, also called the grand prix de l’Académie Royale. The winner received a bourse to study 5 years at the Académie the France in the Villa Medici in Rome (R3,p660;iR3). After completing this additional study one could become a professor at the École (R3,p18).
This concours of the Prix de Rome was held since 1664 (R88II,p197). During the French revolution the Prix de Rome was first abolished in 1793 and re-established in 1797 (iR3). Since 1863/11/13 the Prix de Rome for historical landscape stopped (R59,p183;R60,p97;R5,p26;R3,p660).
1864/04/05 Renoir did an examination (for the Prix de Rome concours) for draughtsmen and sculptors, he became 10th out of 106 (R31,p295;R88II,p1012).


Leading figures:
Jean-Baptiste Claude Eugène Guillaume (1822-1905), a sculptor, was director of the École des Beaux-Arts from 1864 till 1878. He then became director-general of Fine Arts till 1879, when the position was abolished (iR3). Paul Dubois (1829-1905) followed him up in 1878 as director of the École; he was mainly a sculptor and also a teacher at the Atelier Julian (iR3). 1857/01/10 Delacroix was elected at the Académie des Beaux-Arts (R88II,p1003).


Teachers / professors / Members of the ‘Institut’ / ‘Académiciens’:
The members of the ‘Institut’ were often teachers at the École, also called ‘Académiciens’ (R259). Often they were also member of Juries for the Salon and the Exposition Universelle. They had a large influence on the art-world. Who were those members and professors?

Bonnat, Neo-Classicist; was member in 1889;  (R231/iR40)
Bouguereau, Neo-Classicist;
Breton, Jules; was member in 1889 (R231/iR40)
Cabanel, Neo-Classicist;
Cabat, Barbizon painter; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1867 (R259); was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Cogniet, was a professor in 1863 (R31,p179); in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1849 (R259);
Coudier; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1839 (R259);
Delaunay; was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Flandrin was a professor in 1863 (R31,p179)
Gérome, Neo-Classicist;
Gruyer; was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Hébert; was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Henner; was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Hesse; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1867 (R259);
Ingres, Neo-Classicist;
Lenepveu; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1869 (R259); was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Meissonier; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1861(R259);
Moreau, Gustave; was member in 1889 (R231/iR40)
Müller; in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1864 (R259); was member in 1889; (R231/iR40)
Robert-Fleury, J.N.;  was a professor in 1863 (R31,p179); in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1850 (R259); and member in 1889 (R231/iR40)
Signol; was a professor in 1863 (R31,p179); in 1870 he was a ‘Académicien’ since 1860 (R259); and member in 1889; (R231/iR40)


Apart from teaching at the Ecole the professors have their own atelier. 1863 onwards there were 11 ateliers, including 3 for painters, leaded by Cabanel, Gérôme and Pils (R3,p660). Often the professor made recommendations to the Salon jury on behalf of their students (iR3).


Atelier Gleyre:
Charles Gleyre (1806-74) took over in 1843 the studio of Paul Delaroche. He refused to take money from his students, asking them only to contribute to the rent of the premises, first at Rue d’Erfurt, later at Rue de l’Ouest (R88I,p299). He gave much freedom to his pupils, but his emphasize was on figure painting, not on landscape painting (R88I,p299+300). His atelier closed Januar 1864 because he had eye problems (R9,p337;R88II,p1012). Among his pupils were:

  • Gérôme (R9)
  • Whistler; 1856-? (R88I,p299;R9)
  • Lépic  (iR1;R88I,p299)
  • Laporte (Émile; 1841-1919; a friend of Renoir), 1862-? (R31,p295;R88I,p412;R9,p440),
  • Renoir, from 1861 till-x (R31,p179),
  • Bazille, from 1862/11 till x (R88II,p1009;R31,p179;R9),
  • Monet,: 1862/autumn (R88II,p1009;R9)
  • Sisley.: 1862/10 (R88II,p1009)


Atelier Suisse:
Among the pupils were:

  • Monet: 1860 (R88II,p1007)
  • Pissarro: 1858-62? (R88II,p1004-9)
  • Guillaumin, around 1861-62 (R88II,p1008)
  • Cézanne:  1861/? -1861/09 + 1862/11-  (R88II,p1007-9)
  • Oller: at least 1862/11 (R88II,p1009)
  • Guillemet: at least 1862/11 (R88II,p1009)


Atelier Gérôme:
Among his pupils were:

  • Redon: 1864 (R88II,p1012)


Académie Julian:
a co-ed art institution independent of the École des Beaux-Arts, with no entrance exams and nominal fees. Since 1875 Bouguereau was a teacher here and would be so for decades, teaching hundreds of students, including Henri Matisse (iR3).