Third Trial of the Prix de Rome Contest in Historical Painting

You have made it! This final trial will decide on the winners of the coveted Premier Grand Prix de Rome. Courage and plenty of coffee for the 10 students who will endure the following 72 days of competition.

When: one week after the judging of the second trial

Number of contestants: up to 10 students

Length of trial: 72 days

Where: the `logistes' were each accomodated in separate studios at the school.

The Assignment: one large painting, 1.137 X 1.465 metres in size. The subject was chosen in utmost secrecy by 10 members of the Académie. Afterwards, the 'Perpetual Secretary of the Académie', accompanied by two commissaires, carried the program to the assembled contestants, where the topic was read aloud. If, through underground channels, the topic was known ahead by the students, a new topic would have to be chosen through the same lengthy process. This last assignment was actually divided into two parts.

The Unveiling: the finished paintings were locked away, where they awaited varnishing and the final judgement. Several days later they were displayed under glass, along with the preliminary paper sketches, so that the jury, journalists and public could view them. The unveiling of the 10 final paintings would become a major annual event in 19th Century France.

The Final Judgement: A preparatory judgement was made a few days later by members of the painting section of the Académie. One and sometimes two Premier Grand Prix's were selected, as well as the other prizes. If none were deemed worthy,.the first prize was carried over to the following year. The Académie reviewed these preparatory judgements and agreed or disagreed with the choices. Then, and only then, would the results of the final judgement be read aloud to an anxious crowd, breaking the suspense that had been building since the contest began 106 days earlier.

Although you have not been awarded the Premier Grand Prix de Rome, you still have the opportunity to view some of the winners of these historic contests, along with other members of the press and public.