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    View of a fountain in front of the West Building

    Research Projects

    The Early History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635
    Center 42

    The Early History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635

    Frontispiece, portrait of Giovanni Alto (Giovanni Grosso), in Giacomo Marcucci, Grandezze della città di Roma antiche e moderne, Rome, 1628, National Gallery of Art Library, David K. E. Bruce Fund (Rare DG805 .M32), digitized 1/8/2020

    The Early History of the Accademia di San Luca was conceived, under the direction of Associate Dean Peter M. Lukehart, as a project in two parts: a volume of interpretive essays concerning the establishment of one of the first artists’ academies in late 16th-century Italy and a research database of newly rediscovered coeval notarial documents that supports current and future study of the Accademia and its members. Based largely upon these important documents, the essays published in The Accademia Seminars (2009) serve as the first institutional history of the Accademia and cover issues from the creation of new statutes to the siting of the church of Santi Luca e Martina in the Roman Forum, and from the formulation of the educational program of the academy to the roles of the artists and amatori who participated in it. The open-access database of documents, The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma, complements the essays and encourages new research on the Accademia. With over 1,300 names of artists and participants (including many variant spellings), the faceted search (by keyword, document type, place, notary, and date) provides myriad ways to customize and refine research. Select bibliographies and carousels of images for the more famous artists augment and extend research.

    During the past year, the project team—Matthew J. Westerby, Abby S. Whitlock (until September 2021), and Fulvia Zaninelli—continued to develop new resources, focusing on historical guidebooks of Rome. A newly designed Roman Guidebooks page launched in spring 2022, along with dynamic content enriched with brief descriptions of each guidebook, presenting a curated view of a selection of rare books in the National Gallery of Art Library. Twelve rare books are represented as annotated digital objects, and site users will find full-page views of pertinent texts and illustrations under corresponding place pages on the Accademia research project website. These guidebooks have the potential to contextualize and enhance the information the user can draw from our primary material with nuanced historical information. 

    In the summer of 2021, Silvia Tita (postdoctoral research associate, 2015–2018) updated her scholarly essays, previously published on the website, devoted to five historical Roman sites mentioned in our documents. She also provided her own Italian translations that are now accessible through the Italian pages on the website—for example, the Church of Santi Luca e Martina.

    Peter M. Lukehart was elected accademico benemerito of the Accademia di San Luca in spring 2021. A form of membership that is awarded to art and architectural historians, it allows for participation in the meetings and proceedings of the institution, which has been in existence for over 425 years.

    Associate Dean: Peter M. Lukehart
    Research Associate: Fulvia Zaninelli
    Robert H. Smith Research Associate: Matthew J. Westerby
    Assistant to the Program of Research: Abby S. Whitlock (until September 2021)

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