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Painting Gods and Heroes

Making Painters 1648-1914

Daniels Pavilion

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Painting Gods and Heroes

Making Painters 1648-1914
Part of The Baker Museum Lecture Series


Paul Duro, Professor of Art History/Visual and Cultural Studies
  University of Rochester, NY


At least until the last decades of the nineteenth century, the purpose of an École des Beaux-Arts training was never in doubt. It was the means by which artists would attain familiarity with, and proficiency in, those procedures and methods that were understood to be necessary to attain the highest level of professional standing in the fine arts. The desire not merely to make a painting, but to make it within an aesthetic framework that was immediately recognizable to all comers, conferred on an École training the quality of a meta-practice and the authority of an ideology, thereby bonding together theory and practice into whole that occupied, or so it seemed to many, the entire field of painting. As a result, an art training at the École des Beaux-Arts was not only the keystone of the academic system of the arts, but also the single most important element of academic association. This presentation will trace the history of this training from the foundation of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in 1648 down to the start of World War I. The talk will pay special attention to the many nineteenth-century works from the École’s collection included in the accompanying exhibition.


This lecture accompanies the exhibition Gods and Heroes on display at The Baker Museum, February 19 — May 17, 2015.

Paul Duro

Paul Duro


Paul Duro is Professor of Art History/Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, NY. He has published articles on the theory and practice of imitation, the sublime, art institutions, frame theory, the hierarchy of the genres, and travel writing. His books include The Rhetoric of the Frame: Essays on the Boundaries of the Artwork (1996), and The Academy and the Limits of Painting in Seventeenth-Century France (1997), both published by Cambridge University Press. An edited volume, Theorizing Imitation in a Global Context will be published by Routledge in 2015.

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