Academic art (French Academy of Art)
In western art history, "academic" applies to the artists and objects influenced by a European academy of fine art training. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the French Academy of Art (Académie des Beaux-Arts) heavily influenced the aesthetic trends in Europe and the United States. Neoclassicism and Romanticism were both movements embraced as academic.
The French Academy of Art was established in 1648 as a place to provide instruction, visibility, and patronage to emerging artists. The academy emphasized a hierarchy of subject matter, with historical and religious subjects considered the most valued, followed by portraiture and still-life, and finally landscape. Due to lack of competition or other avenues of seeking notoriety and subsequent patronage, the Academy and Salons (annual, government sponsored exhibitions) regulated public taste and controlled official patronage.
"Gustave Courbet, Fox in the Snow," DMA Connect (Education), Dallas Museum of Art, 2012. Accessed 1 March 2015.
The Salon and The Royal Academy in the Nineteenth Century
Read Jason Rosenfeld's essay on the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004)
Artistic Context, from the Courbet Dossier
Check out the Musée d'Orsay's web page for brief histories of The Académie des Beaux-Arts, The Salon, Courbet and the Salon, Academic Painting, Romanticism, and Universal Exhibitions.