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Royal Academies of Painting: The Royal Academies of Painting and Sculpture, founded in France in 1648 and England in 1768, quickly seized control of the arts and the construction of public taste in Western Europe. Combining art theory with the craft learned in the guilds, the Academy also educated its exclusive group of artists with a set of rigid rules that emphasized Classicism. In France royal commissions and official Salon exhibits were limited to members of the Academy, who specialized in a particular style of painting, which was also hierarchical. Listed in order of priority in rank, these included: historical, portrait, landscape and still life. [In Victorian England, however, even though the Royal Academy had great power, rival institutions and commercial galleries provided other routes to artistic and commercial success for those who did not become its members; for example, Hunt and Rossetti — two of the most famous, influential painters of the time — made their own way outside the Academy. — GPL]

Carlyle emphasizes the organization of the arts as another form of machinery, particularly strengthened by the support of the state: “In defect of Raphaels, and Angelos, and Mozarts, we have Royal Academies of Painting, Sculpture, Music; whereby the languishing spirits of Art may be strengthened, as by the more generous diet of a Public Kitchen.” He also addresses the point that individuals no longer work on their own, and are reliant on machinery, which has had both its positive and negative consequences. Using well-known heroes of the romanticized past such as Raphael and Mozart, Carlyle contrasts the past with the current mechanization of pretentious, mass-produced art.

Related Material


Rosenfeld, Jason. "The Salon and The Royal Academy". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2004. 23 March 2010.

Steward, David. A. "Reality, Artifice, and the Politics of Evolution: Watts and Carlyle in the Earnest Age. Victorian Poetry 33.3/4 (Autumn-Winter, 1995): 476-498. [http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=wvup]

Last modified 25 March 2010