Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts

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Entrance of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Rue du Midi/Zuidstraat, Brussels

The Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels (French: Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts - École supérieure des Arts de la Ville de Bruxelles (ARBA-ESA), Dutch: Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten van Brussel), is an art school established in Brussels, Belgium. It was founded in 1711. Starting from modest beginnings in a single room in Brussels' Town Hall, it has since 1876 been operating from a former convent and orphanage in the Rue du Midi/Zuidstraat, which was converted by the architect Victor Jamaer [fr]. The school has played an important role in training important local artists.[1]



Brussels' Town Hall, where the Academy draws its origins

Historically, artistic training in Brussels was organised in traditional workshops where masters would teach their skills to pupils. The masters needed to be registered with their local guild to be able to practice their craft. On 30 September 1711, the magistrate of the City of Brussels gave the guilds of painters, sculptors, weavers and other amateurs the use of a room in Brussels' Town Hall to teach drawing classes to their pupils. On 16 October of the same year, some sort of school was established at these premises to organise the classes. The school would concentrate mainly on teaching drawing.[2]

In 1737, the Academy adopted its first rules. The city assumed some costs, including those for the models. A few decades later, disagreement broke out. The classes moved to the inn 't Gulden Hoofd and were even suspended for a while. The Bruges painter Bernard Verschoot took over the Academy's leadership and tried to put it back on the rails with a heavy hand. The Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands, Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine, put the school under his high protection in 1762. His attention went mainly to the Department of Architecture. The school was re-established in 1768 as the Académie de Peinture, Sculpture et Architecture ("Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture"), with funds raised through a public subscription. Inspiration was found in the French model. 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 François-Joseph Navez[edit]

In 1829, the school moved into the Granvelle Palace (since demolished). One year later, François-Joseph Navez became director. He organized the school and expanded it. In 1832, it moved to the basement of the left wing of the Industrial Palace. From 1835 to 1836, Navez's plans were implemented. In 1836, the Academy was awarded the privilege to use the adjective "Royal" as part of its name. The panel painting was declared to another important department. It was based on the first golden age of Dutch painting. However, there was some time tensions at the Academy to the yet propagated neoclassical style. In addition to painting and sculpture, architectural education became more important, though it never achieved the status of a pioneering teaching and training facility.[3]

Drawing of the Academy's plan (Jamaer, 1876)

In 1876, the Academy moved to the school buildings on the Rue du Midi/Zuidstraat, in what was the former Bogards' convent, which had meanwhile served as an orphanage. The architect Victor Jamaer [fr] was able to link the whole school in the limited space of the existing ensemble. The facade was redesigned in the neoclassical style. Until today the academy is there. From 5 January 1889 women were also allowed to participate in a class for advanced students.[4] 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.[5] Since 1889, Brussels was the uncrowned capital of Art Nouveau, especially in architecture, which had its triumphal procession through Prof. Victor Horta.[6] 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, Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Post Impressionism and the newly incipient Expressionism. These were all precursors of Modern Art.

The Academy's entrance on the Rue du Midi in 1935 (photo by Léon van Dievoet)

In 1912, Horta had made changes to the organisation of the school. A system of studios was created, as it was recommended by Paul Bonduelle and Émile Lambot.[7][8][9] 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, a small Department of Planning and Urban Development was established. Architectural studies got the rank of university education. In 1972, the Department of Artistic Humanities was established. In 1977, the Department of Architecture finally acquired its autonomy. In 1977, the Institute Supérieur d'Architecture Victor Horta, named after the Art Nouveau architect and former director, was founded. In 1980, the higher education of the second degree and new courses at the Academy of Fine Arts were presented. 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: the School of Architecture Victor Horta (ISAVH) and the chamber of the French Community of the Higher Institute of Architecture (ISACF).

Nowadays, 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. Its tasks include projects at home and abroad. The school is sometimes confused with the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (RASAB) and the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium, both separate institutions, as well as the French Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, part of the Institut de France.

The faculty and alumni of ARBA[edit]

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

Notable directors and professors[edit]

Gallery of works by notable teachers and directors[edit]

Some well-known alumni of the school[edit]

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


  1. ^ "300 years of history of the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts". City of Brussels. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  2. ^ The principle of master and apprentice was left. This new school-system ultimately led to a loss of the specialised knowledge accumulated in the past by the respective guilds.
  3. ^ 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, it advised the architects in all professional matters. Since 1936, the aims and objectives of the Palladian society are represented by the SADBr. They should be considered the successor organization.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ The Salon at Paris had reached its zenith at the time and thus lost its leading role.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ The architect Paul Bonduelle lived from 1877 to 1955.
  8. ^ Since 1954 the Paul Bonduelle Prix in architecture of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels is awarded.
  9. ^ Émile Lambot was one of the key architects of the architectural style of the Belgian Art Nouveau.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) RDK Netherlands Institute for Art History
  11. ^ Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) RDK Netherlands Institute for Art History
  13. ^ Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles


  • Academie Royale des Beaux-arts et Ecole des Arts decoratifs de Bruxelles. Exposition centennale 1800–1900.
  • 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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  • Academie Royale des Beaux-arts et École des Arts décoratifs de Bruxelles. Exposition centennale 1800–1900. catalogue of the exhibition at Bruxelles.
  • A. W. Hammacher: Amsterdamsche Impressionisten en hun Kring. J.M. Meulenhoff, Amsterdam 1946.
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  • Jean Bouret: L’École de Barbizon et le paysage française au XIXe siècle. Neuchâtel 1972.
  • Georges Pillement: Les Pré-Impressionistes. Zug 1972, OCLC 473774777
  • Nathalia Brodskaya: Impressionismus. Parkstone Books, New York 2007, ISBN 978-1-85995-652-6.
  • Norma Broude: Impressionismus. an international movement, 1860–1920 („World impressionism“). Dumont, Köln 2007, ISBN 978-3-8321-7454-5.
  • Jean-Paul Crespelle: Les Fauves, Origines et Evolution, Office du Livre, Fribourg, und Edition Georg Popp, Würzburg 1981, ISBN 3-88155-088-7.
  • Jean Leymarie: Fauvismus, Editions d’Art, Albert Skira Verlag, Genève 1959.
  • Kristian Sotriffer: Expressionismus und Fauvismus. Verlag Anton Schroll & Co., Wien 1971.
  • Jean-Luc Rispail: Les surréalistes. Une génération entre le rêve et l'action (= Découvertes Gallimard. 109). Gallimard, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-05-053140-0.
  • David Britt: Modern Art - Impressionism to Post-Modernism. Thames & Hudson, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-500-23841-7.
  • Sandro Bocola: Die Kunst der Moderne. Zur Struktur und Dynamik ihrer Entwicklung. Von Goya bis Beuys. Prestel, München/ New York 1994, ISBN 3-7913-1889-6. (Neuauflage im Psychosozial-Verlag, Gießen, Lahn 2013, ISBN 978-3-8379-2215-8)
  • Sam Phillips: Moderne Kunst verstehen - Vom Impressionismus ins 21. Jahrhundert. A. Seemann Henschel, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-86502-316-2.
  • Pierre Daix, Joan Rosselet: Picasso - The Cubist Years 1907–1916., Thames & Hudson, London 1979, ISBN 0-500-09134-X.
  • Michael White: De Stijl and Dutch Modernism (= Critical Perspectives in Art History). Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-6162-8. (englisch)
  • Thomas, Karin: Blickpunkt der Moderne: Eine Geschichte von der Romantik bis heute. Verlag M. DuMont, Köln 2010, ISBN 978-3-8321-9333-1.


External links[edit]

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