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.