Regulating the Académie

art, rules and power in ancien régime France

Author: Reed Benhamou

Volume: 2009:08

Series: SVEC

Publication Date: 2009

Pages: 308

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0972-8

Price: £70


The acclaimed Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, the second oldest academy in France, was abolished in 1793. Whilst a number of studies have explored the drama of its dissolution, often associated with a speech by former member Jacques-Louis David, this outcome can only be fully understood in the context of the evolving governance of the institution.

In this groundbreaking work, Reed Benhamou provides the first comprehensive examination of the codes and practices of the Académie, from its inception in 1648 to its abolition in 1793. As well as exploring why certain rules were adopted, how they facilitated the development of institutional power bases, and the part they played in the Académie’s growing factionalism, the author uncovers changing attitudes to the guild, women, associate academicians and unaffiliated artists. This astute and comprehensive analysis is followed by nine annotated appendices of both registered and proposed statutes and of other related documents, many of which are made readily accessible for the first time.

Offering new insights into the tensions between art and state throughout the ancien régime and beyond, Regulating the Académie is an invaluable reference not only for art historians, but also for those working in cultural or legal history.


Statutory revision in the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, 1648-1793

i. 1648-1655

ii. 1656-1664

iii. 1665-1751

iv. 1752-1777

v. 1778-1788

vi. 1789-1793

vii. 1789

viii. 1790

ix. 1791-1792

x. 1793

xi. Concluding remarks

Appendix 1: 1648-1650

Appendix 2: 1651-1663

Appendix 3: 1664

Appendix 4: 1751

Appendix 5: 1777

Appendix 6: June 1790

Appendix 7: November 1790

Appendix 8: December 1790 and May 1791

Appendix 9: March 1791




CAA Reviews

Benhamou succeeds in delivering a crisp account of the institution’s history in a well-paced ninety-two pages.[…] The second part […] of Benhamou’s book comprises nine appendices in which the various iterations of the Academy’s statutes are reproduced. […] This, along with Benhamou’s judicious summary of the history of the organization and her excellent bibliography, make this volume an essential addition to the library of any scholar of seventeenth- through nineteenth-century French art.

New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century

Benhamou’s articulate, comprehensive description of the stages of the Académie’s administrative evolution recalls the fragility of our own institutions amidst recent internecine political tensions and power struggles.

Voltaire Foundation

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our cookie policy to find out more. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.