Prix de Rome, American Style

In France in 1663, during the reign of Louis XIV, the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture instituted the Prix de Rome, an art competition award that offered the winning artist a stay of several years at the Palazzo Mancini, in Rome, at the expense of the king.

A view of Gramercy Park, in New York City, viewed from the National Arts Club.

A view of Gramercy Park, in New York City,
viewed from the National Arts Club.

From the Editors of American Artist magazine
 The Palazzo Mancini, in Rome.

 The Palazzo Mancini, in Rome.

The prize afforded an artist of exceptional promise the opportunity to reside in an important cultural metropolis and refine and expand his professional, artistic, and scholarly aptitudes. By instituting this award, the stewards of French culture were tactically recognizing and seeking to address a significant challenge: how to provide for the continuing support and education of artists and secure the continuance of the visual arts for future generations.

What was true then remains true today. Maintaining a viable and productive art practice is enormously challenging. Given the pressures of self-support and scarcity of resources, it is understandable why so many talented and well-intentioned artists cease working.

American Artist, currently celebrating its 75th year, enjoys a long history of supporting artists with quality instructional content, special educational events, and by recognizing and promoting artistic excellence through artist contests and juried art competitions. For 2012, the magazine has expanded its art contests and awards program to include exhibition opportunities. Most recently, it has partnered with the National Arts Club (NAC) to grant a studio residency in the club's historic Tilden Mansion, in New York City.

The dining room of the NAC. A NAC studio.
The dining room of the NAC. A NAC studio.

Like its historical antecedents, the NAC residency fellowship will allow an artist to come to an important cultural mecca to study and work with institutional support. Dianne Bernhard, the club's president, observes, "In addition to the provision of a living and working space, visiting artist critiques, and a concluding exhibition, the winner is provided the full benefits afforded our prestigious membership. He or she can participate in our rich cultural programming, make use of our spacious and elegant facilities, and associate with our esteemed resident artists and member patrons. And of course, there is all this great city has to offer. Our hope is that this residency will provide a worthy artist with a unique and priceless opportunity and the support the artist needs to further develop his or her innate talent and thereby contribute to the legacy of the club and of our greater culture."

Publications such as American Artist and institutions such as the NAC cannot eradicate the pressures artists face or singlehandedly help them overcome the obstacles that impede production, but this fellowship is one more step in the right direction. "Our culture needs artists," Bernhard says. "We must help support them–particularly those young and promising talents who will lead the way for the next generation." American Artist is honored to be partnering with the NAC in this important offering.


Michael Gormley is the editorial director of American Artist magazine.


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Michael Gormley

About Michael Gormley

Michael is editorial director for American Artist, Drawing, Watercolor and Studios magazines. He is a former Dean of the New York Academy of Art and most recently was the Vice President of Education at the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America. He is a practicing artist and has shown his work extensively, and is pursuing a PhD from the Institute of Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.

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