Image: Saint Luke Painting the Madonna and Child in the Presence of Raphael

Traditionally attributed to Raphael, Saint Luke Painting the Madonna and Child in the Presence of Raphael, second decade of the 16th century?, oil on canvas. Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Rome

A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, in Association with the Archivio di Stato di Roma and the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca

A Brief History of the Accademia di San Luca
During the 16th and 17th centuries countless artists were drawn to Rome from every part of the Italian peninsula and beyond the Alps to participate in the vast—and lucrative—papal and private building and decorative programs that were transforming the city. Others came to study and draw after antiquities and the works of modern masters. Once there, however, the artists found a city at once rich in artistic and professional opportunity and inhospitable to its most recent arrivals. With a fragmented workforce and scarce housing, it was difficult for younger practitioners to find teachers, lodging, or work. For mature artists who arrived in the Eternal City without secure patronage, it took considerable energy and determination to establish viable studios or workshops.

First mentioned in a brief from Pope Gregory XIII of 1577, a little over a decade after the conclusion of the last session of the Council of Trent, the Accademia di San Luca was intended to serve the educational, social, professional, and confraternal needs of the painters, sculptors, and architects of Rome. In reality, it took nearly two decades—as well as a move to a new church and a subsequent bull (1588) from Pope Sixtus V—for the Università dei Pittori (painters' guild) to be dissolved and the Accademia to be established, calling its first meetings in 1593. Over the course of the next 40 years, the fledgling institution struggled to write and promulgate its statutes; to create and maintain an educational program; to find the means to support the rebuilding of the church of San Luca in the Imperial Forums; to refine the structure of its governance; and to provide the rights and services that its members required. The story of these events and transformations is not to be found in a single written source; rather, it has to be reconstructed from the fragmented documentation that has been recovered and rediscovered in the collections of the Accademia as well as in those of the Archivio di Stato di Roma, the Archivio Capitolino, and the Archivio Segreto of the Vatican, among other repositories. This task is undertaken in a related volume of essays by an international group of art historians, historians, and archivists, published by the National Gallery of Art: The Accademia Seminars: The Accademia di San Luca in Rome, c. 1590–1635, edited by Peter M. Lukehart (distributed by Yale University Press).

Transcription Conventions

General Bibliography on the Accademia di San Luca

The Archive
The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma brings together a body of largely unpublished notarial records from the Trenta Notai Capitolini (TNC) found in the Archivio di Stato di Roma (ASR), many previously thought lost, concerning the institutional history of the Accademia. This new material sheds light on the foundation, operation, administration, and financial management of the academy from its origins in the late 16th century to its consolidation as a well-regarded institution in the 1630s. It includes detailed lists of members from the time of the Accademia's official incorporation around 1593 under the aegis of its first principe, or head, Federico Zuccaro, to 1635, the year of the principate of Pietro da Cortona, who designed and helped pay for the new church of Santi Luca e Martina. Among the documents are rental agreements; transactions with the workers who were charged with the renovation of the Accademia's original, derelict church; inventories of the collections used for didactic purposes; evidence of the institution's increasing control over production and appraisal of works of art; and details of the internal strife that marked the Accademia's first decades of existence.

The Database
The searchable database of this Web site provides access to a complete transcription of every extant notarial record of the period from the Archivio di Stato di Roma identified by the project team, as well as a digital image of the original document. The transcriptions and page images are viewable side by side.

The transcriptions are encoded in Extensible Markup Language (XML) following the guidelines of the Text-Encoding Initiative (TEI) for digital encoding of literary and linguistic texts ( The transcriptions may be searched by personal name (under all known variant spellings), place name, key term, document type, notary name, and year. The documents included are not only newly available to students and scholars of early modern Italy, but are also accessible in a way that both promotes their use and allows for the identification of additional archival material.

Project Partners with the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma was conceived and supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, in collaboration with the Archivio di Stato di Roma and the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca. Additional support comes from the Getty Foundation and a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for a series of education tours dedicated to audience outreach.

The following online projects have provided technical and scholarly examples of particular significance to this undertaking:

Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte

The Getty Research Institute

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Kunsthistorisches Institut der J. W. Goethe-Universität

The University of Chicago Library

University of Oxford

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