The current Church of Santi Luca e Martina is the result of a laborious effort undertaken by the artist Pietro da Cortona (1596/7‒1669), who served as principe of the Accademia di San Luca at several points during his career. His life is literally intertwined with that of the institution, since he prepared a burial place for himself in the crypt of the church. The documents currently presented on this website, however, concern not the church built after Cortona’s design starting in the 1630s but the structure that predated his intervention. In 1588, when the artists moved in, the Church of Santa Martina was, as visual evidence attests, an amalgamation of architectural strata going back to ancient times. 
Whereas we know that the artists gained the new site in the Roman Forum in December 1588 after being removed from the Church of San Luca near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore a few years earlier at the request of Pope Sixtus V (reigned 1585‒1590), one question that remains unanswered is whether the pontiff ever compensated the painters for the monetary loss incurred from what seems to have been extensive refurbishment of San Luca not long before its demolition. Another question regards who was behind the institution in the transition years from the location near Santa Maria Maggiore to the Forum. The story of the transfer is usually told in terms of replacement, but if the Church of San Luca on the Esquiline was razed soon after Felice Peretti acceded to the pontifical throne as Sixtus V, there was a hiatus of a few years when the Congregazione di San Luca did not have a building in which to carry out its meetings, professional functions, and religious services. It may be that not only Girolamo Muziano—the driving force behind the guild of painters and the burgeoning notion of an Accademia before his death in 1592—but also his younger fellow artist and former protégé Cesare Nebbia played an interceding role on behalf of the painters.  Although Muziano enjoyed preeminence in papal commissions under Pope Gregory XIII (reigned 1572‒1585), Nebbia worked intensively on Sixtus V’s major artistic commissions, often as a leader (for instance, at the Lateran Palace). In this capacity, he may have been sufficiently close to pontifical advisors to try to advance the artists’ cause.