academy of art
in the visual arts, institution established primarily for the instruction of artists but often endowed with other functions, most significantly that of providing a place of exhibition for students and mature artists accepted as members. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, a series of short-lived "academies" that had little to do with artistic training were founded in various parts of Italy. The most famous of these was the Accademia of Leonardo da Vinci (established in Milan c. 1490), which seems to have been simply a social gathering of amateurs meeting to discuss the theory and practice of art. The first true academy for instruction, the Accademia del Disegno ("Academy of Design"), was established in 1563 in Florence by the grand duke Cosimo I de' Medici at the instigation of the painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari. The two nominal heads of the institution were Cosimo himself and Michelangelo. In contrast to the guilds, membership in the Accademia del Disegno was an honour conferred only on already-recognized independent artists. When Vasari's academy fell into disorganization, his ideas were taken up by the Accademia di San Luca, reestablished as an educational program in 1593 at Rome by the painter Federico Zuccari and Cardinal Federico Borromeo. With its emphasis on instruction and exhibition, the Accademia di San Luca was the prototype for the modern academy. Among its functions, much-imitated in later academies, was the sponsorship of lectures given by members of the academy and later published and made available to the general public. Such discourses became the means by which academies fostered and gained public acceptance for particular aesthetic theories. The Accademia di San Luca was firmly established by 1635, having received support from the powerful Pope Urban VIII. All the leading Italian artists and many foreigners were members; the secondary aims of the institution-to obtain important commissions, to enhance the prestige of the members, and to practice exclusionary policies against those who were not members-were avidly pursued.
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