Academies. Institutions which
derive their name from Plato's Academy. In effect they originated in
15th-c. Italy, where humanist gatherings quickly attracted the official
patronage, e.g. the famous Accademia Platonica founded by Cosinio I of
Florence (c. 1542), which became a frequent feature of subsequent
bodies. Vasari's Accademia di Disegno (1562) aimed to establish the status
of artists (a frequent motive of these foundations); but many were
essentially teaching organizations, e.g. the academy of the Carracci. By 1870 over 100 academies were flourishing in Europe indicating the growing
awareness of reintegrating the arts and society. Among British
institutions, examples are the Royal Academy of Music (R.A.M.; 1922), the
Royal College of Music (R.C.M.; 1873) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic
Art (R.A.I).A.; 1904). Literary academies have sometimes functioned as
arbiters of language. In this respect the Academic Francaise, founded by
Richelieu in 1635, is pre-eminent. It has, however, been accused of undue
conservatism, and has excluded many great French writers, including Mohcre,
Balzac and Flaubert. In painting the same kind of criticism has been
levelled at the British Royal Academy (R.A.; 1768; many British painters
were trained in its schools) and the French Academic Royale des Beaux-Arts
(founded by Louis XIV in 1648, dissolved in 1793 and reinstated in 1816 as
the Academic des Beaux-Arts). The British Academy (1901) is devoted to
scholarship in many fields.
The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael
(1509–1510), of an idealized Academy.
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