An École des Beaux-Arts (French pronunciation: [ekɔl de bozaʁ] , School of Fine Arts) is one of a number of influential art schools in France. It is the cradle of Beaux-Arts style in architecture and city planning that thrived in France and the United States during the end of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, at 14 rue Bonaparte (in the 6th arrondissement). The school has a history spanning more than 350 years, training many of the great artists in Europe. Beaux Arts style was modeled on classical "antiquities", preserving these idealized forms and passing the style on to future generations.
The origins of the school go back to 1648 when the Académie des Beaux-Arts was founded by Cardinal Mazarin to educate the most talented students in drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, architecture and other media. Louis XIV was known to select graduates from the school to decorate the royal apartments at Versailles, and in 1863 Napoleon III granted the school independence from the government, changing the name to "L'École des Beaux-Arts". Women were admitted beginning in 1897.
The curriculum was divided into the "Academy of Painting and Sculpture" and the "Academy of Architecture". Both programs focused on classical arts and architecture from Ancient Greek and Roman culture. All students were required to prove their skills with basic drawing tasks before advancing to figure drawing and painting. This culminated in a competition for the Grand Prix de Rome, awarding a full scholarship to study in Rome. The three trials to obtain the prize lasted for nearly three months. Many of the most famous artists in Europe were trained here, including Géricault, Degas, Delacroix, Fragonard, Ingres, Moreau, Renoir, Seurat, Cassandre, and Sisley. Rodin however, applied on three occasions but was refused entry.Bernard was suspended for stylistic "errors."
The buildings of the school are largely the creation of French architect Félix Duban, who was commissioned for the main building in 1830. His work realigned the campus, and continued through 1861, completing an architectural program out towards the Quai Malaquais.
The Paris school is the namesake and founding location of the Beaux Arts architectural movement in the early twentieth century. Known for demanding classwork and setting the highest standards for education, the École attracted students from around the world—including the United States, where students returned to design buildings that would influence the history of architecture in America, including the Boston Public Library, 1888–1895 (McKim, Mead & White) and the New York Public Library, 1897–1911 (Carrère and Hastings). Architectural graduates, especially in France, are granted the title élève.
The architecture department was separated from the École after the May 1968 student strikes at the Sorbonne. The name was changed to École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Today, over 500 students make use of an extensive collection of classical art coupled with modern additions to the curriculum, including photography and hypermedia.
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