ACCADEMIA DI BELLE ARTI DI VENEZIA
On the 24 of September 1750 the Senate approved the foundation of the Venetian Academia, which subsequently adopted its statute in 1756. The academic Board consisted of 36 professors, from which, on a yearly basis, four masters were chosen, covering the following disciplines: Figure, Portrait, Landscape and Sculpture. The first president was Gianbattista Tiepolo, while Gianbattista Pittoni and Gianmaria Morlaiter were the first advisors; their responsibility was to choose the academics from which the teachers were appointed: Gasparo Diziani, Francesco Zanchi, Francesco Fontebasso and Bortolomeo Nazzari. The disciplines of Perspective and Architecture were introduced in 1768 with a course under Francesco Costa, which was subsequently renewed on an annual basis. From its outset, the Academy was responsible for the conservation and restoration of public paintings. Indeed, in 1777, the academic Pietro Edwards wrote a treatise on restoration, which can be considered as an authentic Charter of restoration ante litteram, and later, in 1819, contributed to the “establishment of the formal public School for the Restoration of Damaged paintings”. In 1807, “The Venetian Academy of Paining, Sculpture and Architecture” was reformed and renamed “Royal Academy of Fine Arts” and relocated to the premises of the ex-convent, church and school of Santa Maria della Carità. The professor of architecture, Giannantonio Selva, a well-known classicist, adapted the existing buildings to their new function, an original and daring fusion of the Gothic, Palladian and neoclassical structures, which already existed on the site.
The president of the Academy was nominated by royal appointment, and like the masters, the position was life-long. In the meantime, from 1798 onwards, the Academy began to acquire masterpieces from the monasteries and churches of the region and with the arrival of the Austrians, many works were returned by the French. On the 10th of August 1817, the Galleries were opened to the public. The collection continued to be enriched thanks to donations from both the masters and various private collectors. It was not until 1879 that the Academy Galleries were separated from the direct control and safeguard of the Academy of Fine Arts, which was previously responsible also for their conservation.
The prestige of the Academy can be best understood if we consider the artists who worked there over the centuries nurturing future talents: Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Zanchi, Diziani, Morlaiter, Selva, Canova, Hayez, Lipparini, Matteini, Grigoletti, Politi, Molmenti, Favretto, Nono, Ciardi, Milesi, Tito, Cadorin, Cesetti, Saetti, Giuliani, Arturo Martini, Alberto Viani, Mario de Luigi, Carlo Scarpa, Afro, Santomaso, and Emilio Vedova. These are but a few of the artists who have made the Academy of Venice one of the most eminent international artistic institutions.
Two hundred years after its foundation, the Venice Academy of Fine Arts was relocated to the newly restored premises of the former Ospedale degli incurabili, leaving the entire historical premises to house the art collection of the Academy Gallery. Today, the Academy’s focus is on cultural education and advanced specialist training in art. To best fulfil these objectives, the courses have been redesigned in a more functional manner and other experimental courses have been introduced, to cater to students’ personal interests and vocations, provide more appropriate knowledge and practice, and successfully target professional roles and employment opportunities. In 2008, due to insufficient space in the central premises, a separate centre was established on the island of San Servolo, devoted to “new media” and the technical elaboration of the image (design, specialized graphic techniques, photography and mass media).
The Venice Academy of Fine Arts is a higher education institution.
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