The first art lesson
The Académie's first art class was given in public on February 1st
1648 by Charles Le Brun, then 29 years of age, in front of a large
assembly of students, artists, and art enthusiasts.The school not only introduced
an entirely new method of fine-art instruction but aimed to instill in its
students an awareness of their artistic heritage. The curriculum of the
Académie was based on the concept of modern aesthetic thinking, of which
simplicity, grandeur, cleanness and harmony were the fundamental characteristics.
The students were instructed to study works of art from Greek and Roman Antiquity,
which was believed to best embody this modern aesthetic.
The Académie was composed of two sections: the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and the Academy of Architecture.
In the painting and sculpture studios, exercises in anatomy, geometry, perspective, and
nude studies were assigned. During the early days of the Academy, which
pre-dated the invention of electricity, the school year was divided according
to the amount of daylight hours. During the summer semester, which ran from
April to October, students worked by daylight, while during the winter semester
they worked by the light of lamps.