An Academy Class

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld

Photo: UMJ/N. Lackner

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld (1609–1684)

An Academy Class

Oil on canvas

Inv. no. 110

When guns stay silent, the arts flourish


Those promoting the arts ensure that their memory lives on. But this only works in times of peace: Inter arma silent musae – When guns speak, the arts fall silent. Beginning with the late Renaissance, the whole of Europe witnesses the emergence of the first art academies as princely foundations. In such places, art is cultivated as a practical science, painters and sculptors are trained in accordance with methods. The artist can prove his genius here, while his patron can demonstrate his generosity and education.


Painting is now on equal footing with poetry, in keeping with the idea of the Roman poet Horace: Ut pictura poesis – as is painting so is poetry. This requires not only inspiration and knowledge, but also careful practical training. The cultivation of art becomes a public matter. An art market begins to emerge and with it, lively competition. In addition a new power arises: the critique of the art connoisseur.

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