Presentation 2016


MODELS IN ART: 200 years Rio de Janeiro’s ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS

In 2016, 200 years will have passed since the arrival in Rio de Janeiro of the “French artistic mission”, and the subsequent creation of the Royal School of Sciences Arts and Trade by Royal Decree of August 12th 1816. This date not only marks the 200 years of Rio de Janeiro’s Academy of Fine Arts (later to become UFRJ’s School of Fine Arts), but the very beginning of organized artistic teaching in Brazil. In order to celebrate it, the research groups Entresséculos (EBA/UFRJ) and DezenoveVinte (UFRRJ and CEFET/RJ), with the support of Brazil’s National Museum of Fine Arts [Museu Nacional de Belas Artes], are working together to organize a major international academic event.

For more than a decade, researchers from both groups have been active in the study of Brazilian art, accompanying the international movement favoring the historiographic revision of the 19th and the early 20th centuries – a period generically called “academic” and anathematized by modernist art criticism. In the case of Brazil, to study this period means turning our attention towards works of art, artists and institutions either forgotten or reduced to the repetition of normative clichés.

Rio de Janeiro’s Academy of Fine Arts is one the preferential themes of this renewal of nineteenth century studies.

Created in 1816 and opened in 1826, Rio de Janeiro’s Academy was transformed, after the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic, into the National School of Fine Arts, known as Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (1890). Throughout its bicentennial history, it always participated in the country’s political and cultural history, and was involved in all of the artistic paths followed by Brazilian art.

In the recent historiographic production regarding Brazilian art – particularly linked to the research implemented by Entresséculos and DezenoveVinte, some themes take precedence as vectors for the study of the Academy, such as:

1- the theoretical and practical structuring of Academic studies and their relationship with European models, both traditional and modern;

2- the Academy’s participation in the project of nation building, during the periods of the Independence and the Republic;

3- the structuring of the artistic field in Rio de Janeiro, both within the Academic scope – following the model of the so-called “Exposições Gerais” or General Exhibitions, later called “Salons” – as well as outside its walls – with the progressive organization of a more autonomous artistic milieu, with artists’ studios, galleries, exhibitions, periodical press, art criticism, etc.

4- the formation of the Academy’s collections and the model used to create public art collections, adjacent to incentives for private collectionism.

However, such axes have not been developed in a systematic form. Some of them, such as numbers 1 and 2, present more advanced researches. While numbers 3 and 4 have only recently seen results of a greater depth.

In 2016, we intend to assemble Brazilian and foreign researchers able to contribute with original unpublished works to further the discussion about the artistic models used by art academies.

We are also interested in comparing the Brazilian experience with similar or approximate examples from other countries. In this context, it is important to highlight a structural difference between European countries and those from other continents. In Europe, throughout the 19th century, academies turned to their own tradition of Western art and experience in confrontation with the advent of modernity. While in other continents, the experience of the establishment of the Academies was always linked to a conscientious effort of modernization, in a very complex process, involving the struggle by the new nations to surpass their colonial past, their need for integration with up-to-date European models of civilization and their will to construct a character of their own. Within that last group, cases from Latin America stand out.

It is therefore with great enthusiasm and with the expectation of establishing and furthering intellectual exchanges with our colleagues from all over the world that we call upon all scholars and graduate students who have been researching the above-mentioned themes. Thus, the  Call for presentations for the VII Seminar of Museu D. João VI and V Colloquium of Studies about Brazilian art of the 19th century –  MODELS IN ART: 200 YEARS OF RIO DE JANEIRO’S ACADEMIA DE BELA ARTES is now open.


The first objective of the present academic gathering is to further the current status of the research about Rio de Janeiro’s Academy of Fine Arts [Academia de Belas Artes], encouraging Brazilian and foreign researchers to present original unpublished papers and posters representing innovative perspectives on the above-mentioned thematic axes.

The second objective is to attract researchers from abroad who have been reflecting, as we have, about the function and practices of their own Academies’ or similar institutions – and whose work represents significant contributions to the general historiography about this theme, especially in regards to the four above-mentioned thematic axes, about which we shall give more details below.

Thematic Nuclei

  • MODELS OF TEACHING – the theoretical and practical structures of Academic teaching methods and their relationship with European models regarding tradition and/or modernity: the different structures and teaching methods in the Academy; the diversity of exercises, student competitions, and didactic collections of prints, plaster casts, copies and photographs; the role of libraries.
  • MODELS OF REPRESENTATION – the participation of academies and art schools in the projects for building national identities: models for historic narration, the construction of landscape, the representation of people and the question of race; the differences between artistic-cultural projects during different political regimes; comparative studies about the construction of the idea of “nation” in other countries.
  • MODELS OF ACTION – the structuring of the artistic field in cities in which academies and art schools were based: from within their scope, by the creation of official exhibitions or Salons; and outside the academic mainstream, as a more autonomous artistic milieu slowly developed, with artists’ studios, art galleries, exhibitions, periodical press, art criticism; comparative studies about similar situations in cities from other countries.
  • MODELS OF COLLECTIONS – the creation and development of the collections of academies and art schools and the policies implemented for establishing public art collections, as well as incentives for private collections: donations, acquisitions, collections exhibited during the “Exposições Gerais”, the establishment of private collections.



Logos VII seminario2