La collection d'art de l’Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture au Louvre

La collection d’art de l’Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture

(Description en anglais seulement)

Our project aspires to highlight the importance of the art collection of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture – a unique, yet almost entirely unstudied body of work that is essential to our understanding of eighteenth-century art and institutional practices.

Over the century and a half of its existence (1648–1793), the Académie royale assembled a collection of more than 650 artworks (paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, casts, and medals). Most of those were morceaux de réception – works that young artists presented to an academic jury to become members of the institution. But the collection also included Prix-de-Rome-wining paintings and bas-reliefs, commissioned portraits of the Académie’s patrons, académie drawings of current and past professors, plaster casts of classical sculptures, miscellaneous donated works of art, and artistic marginalia (e.g., skeletons used in teaching human anatomy).

This was a one-of-a-kind corpus for multiple reasons. As almost all the prominent artists of the old regime were members of the Académie royale, it united such iconic reception pieces as Watteau’s Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera (1717), Chardin’s Ray (1728) and Greuze’s Septimius Severus and Caracalla (1769). These and other examination works now offer invaluable insight into the aesthetic values of the institution. Académies, plaster casts, and other objects used for teaching allow us to reconstruct the educational process. While commissioned portraits of the Académie’s patrons and donated works of art shed light on the personal networks behind it. The hang of the artworks in the Louvre, in turn, is an outstanding example of eighteenth-century curatorial work. The arrangement of the collection was determined by academicians themselves and stands an important “internal” counterpart to the Académie’s public display, the Salon.

After the French Revolution, this historically significant body of work was dispersed and today is shared by the Louvre, the Versailles, the ENSBA, and many other museums in France and worldwide. Thankfully, however, two detailed descriptions are still extant: in 1715, when the collection was housed on the Louvre’s ground floor, it was documented by Nicolas Guérin, and in 1781, when it hung on the first floor, it was recorded by Antoine-Nicolas Dezallier d’Argenville.

In collaboration with the Centre Dominique-Vivant Denon (Louvre), the INHA, and the ENSBA, we have used these sources to create a database that establishes what artworks made up the collection in the eighteenth century and where they are preserved now. To demonstrate the importance of the collection to understanding ancien régime art, we are also preparing a multi-authored volume (due out in 2024).

Partenaires du projet

Date de début



Markus A. Castor

Dr. Markus A. Castor

Directeur de recherches / Responsable des éditions de la coll. Passages Online
Téléphone +33 (0)1 42 60 67 13


Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris (INHA)
Centre Dominique-Vivant Denon, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Beaux-Arts de Paris

Anciens membres du projet

Hannah Goetze

Hannah Goetze

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Dr. Anne Klammt

Dr. Anne Klammt

Directrice de recherches / Responsable des Humanités Numériques
Téléphone +33 (0)1 42 60 89 50