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Academies. Institutions which derive their name from Plato's Academy. In effect they originated in 15th-c. Italy, where humanist gatherings quickly attracted the official patronage, e.g. the famous Accademia Platonica founded by Cosinio I of Florence (c. 1542), which became a frequent feature of subsequent bodies. Vasari's Accademia di Disegno (1562) aimed to establish the status of artists (a frequent motive of these foundations); but many were essentially teaching organizations, e.g. the academy of the Carracci. By 1870 over 100 academies were flourishing in Europe indicating the growing awareness of reintegrating the arts and society. Among British institutions, examples are the Royal Academy of Music (R.A.M.; 1922), the Royal College of Music (R.C.M.; 1873) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (R.A.I).A.; 1904). Literary academies have sometimes functioned as arbiters of language. In this respect the Academic Francaise, founded by Richelieu in 1635, is pre-eminent. It has, however, been accused of undue conservatism, and has excluded many great French writers, including Mohcre, Balzac and Flaubert. In painting the same kind of criticism has been levelled at the British Royal Academy (R.A.; 1768; many British painters were trained in its schools) and the French Academic Royale des Beaux-Arts (founded by Louis XIV in 1648, dissolved in 1793 and reinstated in 1816 as the Academic des Beaux-Arts). The British Academy (1901) is devoted to scholarship in many fields.



The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael (1509–1510), of an idealized Academy.



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