The founding of an art academy

Fine-art instruction in Europe is a long and prestigious tradition. It began in the Middle-Ages when master-painters passed on their artistic legacies to their apprentices. In 1648 a group of young artists broke away from the old establishment which grouped them together with artisans, formed a union, and established in Paris the first French fine-arts institution. Considered revolutionary for its time, the new school was modelled after existing Italian institutions and named the AcadÈmie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.

The school's main goals were to provide free instruction and promote equality among the students. In this democratic spirit, instruction was free, making it possible for students from all social backgrounds to attend. A wide array of qualifying contests promoted social equality, allowing students to advance on merit alone. The earliest incarnation of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was born.