Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium

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The Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium (in French: Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique) is the independent learned society of science and arts of the French Community of Belgium. It is also called in shorthand Royal Academy of Belgium (ARB) or La Thérésienne (i.e. The Teresian) from Maria Theresa. The Dutch-speaking counterpart for the Flemish Community in Belgium is called Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. In 2001 both academies founded a joint association for the purpose of promoting science and arts on a national level: The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (RASAB). All three institutions are located in the same building, the Academy Palace in Brussels.[1]

History[edit]

A preexisting literary society was founded in 1769 under the auspices of Karl von Cobenzl, then plenipotentiary of the Austrian Netherlands under Empress Maria Theresa. In 1772 Cobenzl's successor Georg Adam, Prince of Starhemberg continued the efforts of his predecessor by expanding the society to a scientific academy. This academy was granted the right to bear the title of Imperial and Royal Academy of Science and Letters of Brussels by Empress Letters Patent dated 16 December 1772.[2] The Sovereign instructed the academics to animate the intellectual life of the country and to stimulate and coordinate scientific research in a wide variety of fields.

This institution did not survive the French occupation of the Belgian regions and the Academy held its last plenary session on 21 May 1794.

William I, king of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1815, reinstituted the academy by Royal Decree of 17 May 1816 on the title of Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters (in French Académie royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres). Work was restarted with 8 remaining academics associated with other Dutch and Belgian fellow-members. Its legal personality is recognised by the law of 2 August 1924.

Belgian Academie[edit]

After the 1830 Belgian Revolution, the Academy found its permanent place in the social order and on 1 December 1845 Leopold I of Belgium named it Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. He set up three classes: science, letters and fine arts with each 30 members from Belgian nationality. Confirm Art. 2 the King is Royal Patron, and bestows membership. [3]


In 1938, the Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België was created as an independent solely Dutch-speaking Flemish academy while the Royal Academy of Belgium remained a bilingual institution hosting members both from the north and from the south of the country. The bilingual status of the Royal Academy however caused difficulties over the course of the years which ultimately were resolved in 1971 by splitting the Royal Academy into an independent solely Dutch-speaking entity and an independent solely French-speaking entity.[4] The law of 1 July 1971 put both academies in linguistic equality: henceforth their own lingua franca is used (respectively the French and the Dutch) and they bear the same denomination.[5] In 1999 the Dutch-speaking academy changed its name into Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (in Dutch Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten.

Organization and members[edit]

The academy is divided into four major classes and assemblies are held monthly:[6]

  • Class of Sciences: mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, geological sciences and related disciplines;
  • Class of Letters and moral and political sciences: history, archeology, letters, philosophy, moral and political sciences, sociology, economy, law, psychology and economy.
  • Class of Arts: painting, architecture and sculpture, music, cinematographic and audiovisual arts, performing arts, history of art, art criticism.
  • Class of Technical Sciences: various engineering resulting from sciences including their impact on society.

Each class is composed of 50 members and 50 foreign members.

Location[edit]

Academy Palace in Brussels

The Academy is headquartered in the Academy Palace (Paleis der Academiën (Dutch) or Palais des Académies (French)), Hertogsstraat (Dutch) or Rue Ducale (French) in Brussels.

By a royal decree of 30 April 1876, the Palace was put at the disposition of the two existing Belgian academies, the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium and the Académie royale de Médecine de Belgique (fr) founded in 1841. Three further academies came to share the space: the Académie royale de Langue et de Littérature françaises (fr), founded in 1920 by Jules Destrée; in 1938 the Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België as independent Dutch-language academy (now the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts) and the Koninklijke Academie voor Geneeskunde van België (nl) (Dutch counterpart of Académie royale de Médecine de Belgique in French i.e. Royal Society of Medicine of Belgium) also founded in 1938.

Permanent secretaries[edit]

The lead director is a permanent secretary (in French secrétaire perpétuel). Since November 2007, the secretary is Hervé Hasquin.

Prizes and awards[edit]

A broad list of scientific and art prizes (fr) is awarded each year in different kinds of subjects.

RASAB membership[edit]

Since its foundation in 2001 the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium has been a member of RASAB (The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium) along with its Dutch-speaking sister-academy KVAB in order to coordinate and promote the 25 National Scientific Committees and the international activities in Belgium.[7]

Presidents[edit]

Famous members[edit]

A full list can be found in Index biographique des membres et associés de l'Académie royale de Belgique (1769-2005).

Name Election
André-Marie Ampère 8.10.1825
Pierre Alechinsky 8.1.1987
Auguste Beernaert 8.5.1899
Lennox Berkeley 5.5.1983
Jean Cocteau 1955
Salvador Dalí 6.1.1972
Charles Darwin 15.12.1870
Giorgio de Chirico 3.7.1958
Manuel de Falla 10.1.1935
Paul Delvaux 3.7.1958
Jacques Delors 29.5.1999
Théodore Dubois 5.1.1911
Paul Dukas 8.1.1820
James Ensor 8.1.1825
Victor Horta 6.2.1919
Joseph Jongen 1.7.1921
Queen Elisabeth of Belgium 1953

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Academy Palace Archived 2013-07-19 at the Wayback Machine., at kvab.be
  2. ^ Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique (1837). Annuaire de l'Académie royale des sciences et belles-lettres de Bruxelles (in French). M. Hayez. p. 3. 
  3. ^ see Handelsblad (Het) 05-12-1845
  4. ^ (in Dutch) geschiedenis (history), at kvab.be
  5. ^ "Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique" (in French). Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Academy Statute". Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "The National Committees". The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 

External links[edit]