I just came back from Paris, where I was doing research on nineteenth nentury painters who studied at the highly admired Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
The Ecole was the most important and influential school for painting in the nineteenth century. Arguably, it is the most influential institution in the history of painting, having lead trends during the majority of the nineteenth century, when there were more than 300,000. Founded in 1648, it trained artists for more than 350 years. Some of the artists include David, Ingres, Gerome, Delacroix, and Bouguereau to name very, very few. (For a longer history of the Ecole online visit the Wikipedia entry or for more, in-depth reading see Albert Biome’s book The Academy and French Painting in the Nineteenth Century.)
While in Paris, I decided to stop by the Ecole. I wanted to see the great institution that produced great works that hang in great museums around the world. I was surprised at what I found.
(Main bathroom through the front hall of the Ecole)
(View of the Mulberry Tree Courtyard at the Ecole, with students eating lunch)
(Another shot of the courtyard with a statue and graffiti)
(A hall along the courtyard. Pay attention to the pealing paint on the ceiling.)
(Another statue with graffiti in the main courtyard)
The building is in decay at best and a victim of blatant neglect at worst. While Ingres paintings have rooms dedicate to their viewing in the Louvre, the institution Ingres dedicated his life to is rotting.
It is now a school that specializes in modern architecture. I asked several of the students and two people who worked in the main office if they could tell me where I could find the former studios of Gerome, Bouguereau, and Ingres. No one recognized the first two names, and they had no idea where I could find Ingres well-respected workshop.
It was a sad experience.
Can anything be done about it?
Should anything be done?