In the 19th century, Paris was the art capital of the world and home of the French Academy, which oversaw the premier art school—the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts). The Academy also ran the official exhibitions (Salons) where artists showed their works. Following the Academy's path would give hopeful artists (from all over Europe and America) the right of entry to a world of fame, honors, awards, public and private commissions, and an opportunity to become a member of an elite circle that exerted all-powerful influence over the fine arts in France. The Academy stood for well-established traditions, such as an emphasis on draftsmanship and the importance of historical subject matter, which was challenged in the late 19th century by artists such as the Impressionists.
Beauty, Passion, and Bliss spans the 19th century with major examples of works dealing with classical mythology, biblical subjects, landscape and animals, genre (everyday subjects), and Orientalism. The exhibition features 50 works by artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Frederic, Lord Leighton, and Jean-Jacques Pradier.
Drawn from the collection of the Dahesh Museum of Art, the exhibition examines the Academy and the making of art in the 19th-century. A full color catalogue titled Academic Splendor: 101 Masterpieces from the Dahesh Museum of Art accompanies the exhibition. The Dahesh Museum of Art (located in New York City) is the only institution in the United States devoted to collecting and exhibiting European academic art of the 19th century.
Organized by the Dahesh Museum of Art and the Flint Institute of Arts.