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The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma

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

Welcome to the newly redesigned The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590-1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma.

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Visitors familiar with the original website, launched in 2010, will notice changes. Principal among them is the means by which searches are implemented. The original site was created using Extensible Markup Language (XML) following the standards of the Text-Encoding Initiative (TEI). The newly migrated website provides faceted search components that allow the user to explore the documents by using names, keywords, document types, places, notaries, and year dates. Although the structure of the data is different, search results remain as accurate and complete as before while including significant enhancements. For example, researchers can now either select a single category for searching or combine guided searches in up to six categories. Searchable names (now numbering around 1,300) include those of artists and artisans as well as individuals constituting a wide swath of the population of Rome who transacted business with members of the Accademia. 

The site now provides pages for all of the individuals mentioned in the documents, including references and links to the documents in which their names appear, with a new feature that indicates the role or roles that they played in Roman society and/or the Accademia, if retrievable. For well-known artists or artists who contributed significantly to the life of the Accademia, the site now incorporates artists’ pages that include not only links to the documents in which they are named but also selected bibliographies, related images, and in some cases portraits. The site’s original features have been completely updated and re-edited to correct errors and inconsistencies as well as to incorporate new information. The bibliographies are linked either to the catalog of the National Gallery of Art Library or to WorldCat so that researchers can access complete bibliographic information for every reference. Most of the works of art represented at present are from the collection of the National Gallery of Art, with about a dozen from other museums that house the Samuel H. Kress Collection.  Hundreds more related works of art by academicians from museums throughout the world will be added in the coming months. In addition, the Accademia project team is engaged in the creation of a mapping feature that will allow researchers to locate places mentioned in the documents on four historic maps of Rome.

Finally, migration to the platform used by the National Gallery of Art website (www.nga.gov) will ensure the long-term sustainability and extensibility of The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590‒1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma.

A Brief History of the Accademia di San Luca

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

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).

The Archive

Taddeo Drawing after the Antique

Federico Zuccaro, Taddeo Drawing after the Antique; In the Background Copying a Facade by Polidoro, about 1595, pen and brown ink and brush with brown wash, over black chalk and touches of red chalk. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

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

march-7-1593-(1)

Detail of March 7, 1593. ASR, TNC, uff. 11,
1593, pt. I, vol. 25, fols. 425r–v–r, 426r–v,
427r–v
The attendees at the meeting decide to
create an assembly of painters in Rome.

The searchable database of this website 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 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. 

                                                             Transcription Conventions 

The Publication 

The Accademia Seminars: The Accademia di San Luca in Rome, c. 1590–1635, edited by Peter M. Lukehart 

accademia-200

This volume reexamines the establishment and early history of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, one of the most important centers of governance, education, and theory in the arts for the early modern period and the model for all subsequent academies of art worldwide. Eleven essays by an international group of historians, archivists, and art historians provide the most comprehensive history of the Accademia to be published in more than 40 years, and the first in nearly 200 years to be based almost entirely on primary and documentary material. The authors examine the institution’s founding and development through unpublished documents as well as reinterpretation of technical materials and theoretical treatises. In so doing, they also provide new means for following the progress of the most significant artists—in addition to a host of lesser-known painters, sculptors, and architects—who were working in Rome in the early seventeenth century. Published by the National Gallery of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. 

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, 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:

 

Special Thanks

The project team of The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma thanks, in addition to the previous members of the team, colleagues at the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, including Francesco Moschini, segretario generale, and Elisa Camboni, head of the Archivio Storico, as well as at the Archivio di Stato di Roma, Paolo Bonora, direttore.  The team is equally grateful to colleagues at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts: Elizabeth Cropper, dean; Therese O’Malley, associate dean; and Lorenzo Pericolo, senior research associate.  In addition, the team expresses its appreciation for the support of William McClure, treasurer, and Linda Stone, chief information officer, National Gallery of Art.

Current Team Members

Previous Team Members

 

Images

Banner: Detail of ASR, TNC, uff. 11, 1593, pt. I, vol. 25, fol. 426v (March 7, 1593). The attendees at the meeting decide to create an assembly of painters in Rome

Étienne Dupérac, Map of Rome, 1577, detail of the Roman Forum with the church of Santa Martina, the future location of the church of San Luca. The British Library

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

Federico Zuccaro, Taddeo Drawing after the Antique; In the Background Copying a Facade by Polidoro, about 1595, pen and brown ink and brush with brown wash, over black chalk and touches of red chalk. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

Detail of ASR, TNC, uff. 11, 1593, pt. I, vol. 25, fol. 426v (March 7, 1593).