Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts

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Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 1935 (photo Léon van Dievoet)

The Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts - École supérieure des Arts de la Ville de Bruxelles (ARBA-ESA), in Dutch Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten van Brussel, is the Belgian art school, established in Brussels in the Kingdom of Belgium. It was founded in 1711. At the beginning housed in a single room in the city hall, in 1876 the school moved to a former convent and orphanage in the Rue du Midi, rehabilitated by the architect Pierre-Victor Jamaer, where the school still operates.[1]


The Bombardment of Brussels by French troops in 1695 was the most destructive event in the history of this town.[2] After the reconstruction of the Grand Place in Brussels there was a turning point for the history of art in the Netherlands. In 1711 the City of Brussels gave the artists guilds a place for training. One room in the city hall (Hôtel de Ville) was freed. The guilds of painting, sculpture, weaving and other art areas should have its own training center. On October 16 of the same year the establishment of a new school took place.[3] Model was the Accademia del Designo to Florence. In 1752 they moved to the hostel d'Golden Head . In 1762 the Duke Charles Alexander of Lorraine took over the school after a long crisis. Henceforth, their line was in his hands. His attention rested mainly on the architecture. In 1768 Barnabé Guimord established the first architecture class. Through sales and issue of shares additional funds were made available. A year later the school returned to the town hall. In 1795, the Academy was closed after the conquest of Brussels by the French revolutionary troops.

Resurgence under Fançois-Joseph Navez[edit]

In 1829 the school moved into the Granvelle Palace on. One year later Fançois-Joseph Navez became director. There was new life in the Académie, while the sculpture has been strongly promoted. He organized the school and expanded it. In 1832 it went to the basement of the left wing of the Industrial Palace. From 1835 til 1836 the plans of Navez were implemented. In 1836 it was awarded the privilege to wear "royale" as part of their name. The panel painting was declared to another important department. This was based on the old painting of the first golden age of Dutch painting. However, there was some time tensions at the Academy to the yet propagated Style of Neo-Classicism. In addition to painting and sculpture architectural education became more important. Only they never achieved the status of a pioneering teaching and training facility.[4][5]

In 1876 the Academy moved to the school buildings in the Rue du Midi. It is the building of the former monastery Boogaard what had meanwhile served as an orphanage. The architect Pierre-Victor Jamaer was able to link the whole school in the limited space of the existing ensemble. The facade was redesigned by the architectural style of classicism. Till today this academy is here. From 5 January 1889 women were also allowed to participate in a class for advanced students.[6] At the end of the 19th century was the founding of the modern LUCA Campus Sint-Lukas Brussels a strong competition. Meanwhile, ARBA is one of the 16 art schools of the French Community of Belgium. Under the director Charles van der Stappen the doctrine came to this university to an even greater prestige. Even literature and photography were part of the training offer.

In the European art scene around the turn of the century Brussels drew forth in addition to his training center in the shadow of Paris.[7] Since 1889 Brussels was the uncrowned capital of Art Nouveau, especially in the architecture, which had its triumphal procession through Prof. Horta.[8] The Academy managed the step to another center of the avant-garde in the panel painting. From the Academy and its students went influence on the development of Realism, Symbolism, the Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Post Impressionism and the newly incipient Expressionism. Everything was precursor of Modern Art.

In the year 1912 Victor Horta had made changes to the organisation of this school. A system of studios was created, as it was recommended by Paul Bonduelle and Lambot.[9][10][11]

In 1936 the Royal Order was made to the formation of the separate Department of Architecture.

Changes in organization and teaching after 1945[edit]

In 1949 the rank of a small department for planning and urban development was established, too. The architectural studies got the rank of university education. In 1972, the Department of artistic humanities was established. At last in 1977 the Department of Architecture had finally acquired its autonomy. In 1977 the Institute Supérieur d'Architecture Victor Horta, named after the Art Nouveau architect and former director, was founded.[12]

In 1980, the higher education of the second degree and new courses at the Academy of Fine Arts are presented.

Today programs are offered for Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in the fields of design, art and media and offered doctoral studies, too. The Academy has been an ESA (Ecole Supérieure des Arts - Art College) with a university orientation. In addition, it is part of Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium RASAB which was founded in 2001. It is responsible for the task of promoting activities of the affiliated members and organizations here and coordinate. - Her tasks include projects at home and abroad.

The faculty and alumni of ARBA[edit]

Includes some of the most famous names in Belgian painting, sculpture, and architecture:

The most notable directors and professors of the school[edit]


Architect Victor Horta (1901) Batiment Horta - rue Neuve à Bruxelles.

The school is sometimes confused with the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium, a separate institution, and the French Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, part of the Institut de France.

In the kingdom of Belgium this academy was very important for the development of art for architecture and building, panel painting, sculpture. lithography and watercolour paintimg.

Gallery of works by notable teachers and directors of the Académie[edit]

Some well known students of the school[edit]


Gallery of work by notable students of the Académie[edit]


  1. ^ "300 years of history of the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts". City of Brussels. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ It happened during the War of Austrian Succession an the Siege of Brussels.
  3. ^ The principle of master and apprentice was left. This new school-system ultimately led to a loss of knowledge in the respective guilds.
  4. ^ In 1842, the Palladio Society was founded. It emerged from the class of the then professor Tilman-François Suys. The aim was to promote students in their learning path. Later, she advised the architects in all professional matters. The company was oriented very academy. It doesn't exists.
  5. ^ Since 1936 the aims and objectives of the Palladian society are represented by the SADBr. They should be considered the successor organization.
  6. ^ In Europe, moved away at this point from the social point of view, that the women were assigned to the amateurism. With this opening, they gained the right to be recognized as full-fledged artist. The term can be seen in the sense of Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  7. ^ The Salon at Paris had reached its zenith at the time and thus lost its leading role.
  8. ^ In the architecture the flow of eclecticism must not be ignored, which is a combination of Neo-classicism and Art Nouveau. In Brussels the facades of new buildings got this architectural design, too. Even abroad, this style has been taken by architects and builders as a model for their projects. The far eastern building is the surviving water tower of Breslau, Schlesien. In Belgium belonged such well-known names like Paul Picquet, Jean Baes, Fernand Conrad, Henri Beyaert and Paul Hankar to the most influential architects.
  9. ^ The architect Paul Bonduelle lived from 1877 to 1955.
  10. ^ Since 1954 the Paul Bonduelle PriXin architecture from the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles is awarded.
  11. ^ Émile Labot was one of the key architects of the architectural style of the Belgian Art Nouveau.
  12. ^ In 2009, the Faculty of Architecture of the Free University of Brussels was founded. This was done after the merger of the two schools of architecture:
    • School of Architecture Victor Horta (ISAVH) and
    • The chamber of the French Community of the Higher Institute of Architecture (ISACF).
  13. ^ RDK Netherlands Institute for Art History
  14. ^ Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
  15. ^ RDK Netherlands Institute for Art History
  16. ^ Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles


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  • 1987: Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, 275 ans d'enseignement, from 07.05 - 28.06.1987.
  • 2007: Art, anatomie trois siècles d'évolution des représentations du corps, Académie royale des Beaux-arts de Bruxelles, 20.04. - 16.05.2007.


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Coordinates: 50°50′38″N 4°20′52″E / 50.8440°N 4.3477°E / 50.8440; 4.3477