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.