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It is referred to as academicist painting or academic art, the style of those works that use a particular method in their creation, and follow a determined compositional canon, characteristic of an art school, which in turn is linked to a time and place.

Traditionally, academicism is identified with the French school Académie des beaux-arts (founded in 1816), which promulgated the virtues of eclecticism, understood as a harmony between neoclassicism and romanticism. In this context, the most distinguished proponent of the style was William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

The paintings created by these great masters not only adopted the formal norms of the school, but also the very themes of the works were influenced.

The neoclassical part of the mix emerges in the form of mythological themes, although not a requirement, its use is widespread among painters of the French school. They refuse to paint realistic scenes or real landscapes, seeing no reason to spend their time painting what they consider "ugliness"; on the contrary, they focus only on depicting an almost sublime beauty.

Famous Academicist Paintings

  • "The Birth of Venus"

    This is one of the most famous paintings by , painted in 1879, France. Original title: La Naissance de Vénus.

  • "Dante and Virgil"

    Scene taken from the divine comedy, painted in 1879 by . In French: Dante et Virgile. Considered by experts as one of the most brilliant paintings in history in terms of its depiction of the human body and its movement.

  • "The Death of Moses"

    Original title: La Mort de Moïse. Canvas of 110 x 154 cm. painted in oil in 1851 by the French , who completed the work while on a formative stay at Villa Medici, Rome.

    Referring to this painting, the artist comments to his brother in a letter: "I have imposed upon myself a formidable and very difficult task, as I attempt to represent the image of the great lord of the heavens and the earth, God, and beside him one of his most sublime creatures...".

  • "Interior from Amaliegade"

    The complete title of this work is "Interior from Amaliegade. Captain Carl Ludvig Bendz standing and Dr. Jacob Christian Bendz sitting.". Painted in 1829 by the Danish painter . One of the most distinguished students of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

  • "Napoleon Crossing the Alps"

    Equestrian portrait painted 1801 by the French . Original title: Bonaparte franchissant le Grand-Saint-Bernard. A student at Villa Medici, from the so-called French Academy in Rome.

  • "Spring"

    Original title: Printemps. Painted in 1873, this is one of the most famous canvases by , who was a pupil of at least 3 prominent figures of academicism: Bouguereau, Cabanel, and Cogniet.

Naïf, the Antithesis of Academicism

At the opposite extreme of academicism is what is called Naïve Art, a name given to a stylistic approach that does not adhere to the use of any formal canon, but rather has a sui generis character, governed by the self-taught learning of the artist. Similarly, other famous styles such as impressionism, cubism, expressionism, and abstract, are much closer to "Naïve" than to academic.

More paintings in the style:

21 products

The Shepherdess, Bouguereau
The Shepherdess $389.00 CAD
Little Sulky, Bouguereau
Little Sulky $579.00 CAD
Cupid on the lookout, Bouguereau
Nature’s Fan, Bouguereau
Nature’s Fan $579.00 CAD
Pleasant Burden, Bouguereau
Pleasant Burden $579.00 CAD
Young Shepherdess, Bouguereau
Youth, Bouguereau
Youth $579.00 CAD
Songs of Spring, Bouguereau
Songs of Spring $579.00 CAD
Fishing For Frogs, Bouguereau
Love and Psyche, Bouguereau
Love and Psyche $579.00 CAD
Italian Girl Drawing Water, Bouguereau
The Invasion, Bouguereau
The Invasion $1,517.00 CAD
The Newborn Lamb, Bouguereau
Little Girl, Bouguereau
Little Girl $389.00 CAD
The Shepherd David, Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau
The Abduction of Psyche, Bouguereau
A Little Coaxing, Bouguereau
After the Bath, Bouguereau
After the Bath $389.00 CAD
At the Edge of the Brook, Bouguereau
Gleaners, Bouguereau
Gleaners $389.00 CAD
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