First Trial of the Prix de Rome Contest in Historical Painting




When: every year at the beginning of Spring, from 1663 until 1968

Number of contestants: up to 100 students

Length of trial: 12 hours

Where: the contestants were locked into studios at the school and were not allowed to leave until they had completed their assignments

The Assignment: one painted sketch, 32.5 X 40.5 cm in size, the subject of which was either historical or mythological, and was announced by the supervising professor. Upon completion, the sketches were signed on the back by the students, to maintain anonymity for judging.

The Judging: occurred a few days later. The jury consisted of painting professors and board members of the Académie.The works were each numbered and presented to the jury, who voted on the 20 best. The 20 winning sketches were then put under lock and key, to be displayed later on during the contest. Few artworks remain from these first trials; many were probably destroyed by the students themselves.

The Next Step: up to 20 semi-finalists would then advance to the more difficult second trial of the contest