Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Cheryl Leibold
Museum and school of fine arts founded in Philadelphia in 1805. The driving force in the creation of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was Peale family, §1 who, a few years earlier, had led the formation of Philadelphia’s first art organization, the short-lived Columbianum Academy. The Pennsylvania Academy’s 71 founders, mostly lawyers and businessmen, decreed that its purpose was to provide opportunities for art instruction and to mount exhibitions in order “to promote the cultivation of the Fine Arts, in the United States of America …” Although the mission of the Academy did not change, the founders neither envisioned nor planned for the highly organized curriculum and the large permanent collection that emerged by the end of the 19th century.
The Academy opened its first building in April 1806. The initial educational approach, based on that of the English Royal Academy, relied on copying from plaster casts of antique sculpture and from paintings on display, many of which were European. While formal classes were decades away, opportunities to draw from a model were often available, and critiques from Academy artists such as ...