The legacy of a unique collection

L'Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts preserves through its archives and collections one of the most important artistic legacies of France. Housed in the school's superb library are paintings, sketches and architectural drawings by former students of the school. Rarely have so many documents survived both the passage of time and the Revolution. Of outstanding historical value is the collection of works from the Prix de Rome Contests in Painting, which echoes the colourful and often tumultuous past of the school.

Little known by the public at large, this suite of over 200 paintings represents the winners of the Premier Grand Prix de Rome. What separates this from most other museum collections is the fact that these works form a comprehensive series, and were painted by students still in the process of becoming artists. Also unusual is the fact that the paintings represent a long span of consecutive years, and all have the same dimensions, subject matter, and place of creation.