The fable Institut de France!

We are into Spring for sure, nice and sunny no rain and just 6C or about 45F cool alors nous sommes au printemps!!! And , I like to tell you about an institution very much dear to us French ! Let’s talk about the Institut de France!!! in Paris.

The Institut de France  was created in October 25 1795 and house in an old building of the old school or Collège des Quatre-Nations located at  23 quai de Conti in the 6éme arrondissement just facing the Seine river. It includes the French Academy or Académie française (40 members),  the inscriptions and noble letters academy or Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (55 members), Science Academy or Académie des Sciences (262 members),  the fine arts academy or Académie des beaux-arts (59 members), and the moral  and political sciences academy or Académie des sciences morales et politiques (50 members).

Paris institut de france passarelle des arts c2009

a bit of history on the building:

In 1661, in his final will and last wishes and thanks to his great fortune the Cardinal Mazarin asked king Louis XIV ,the creation of a college to received the nobles of the four nations united in royal obedience by the treaties of Westphalia in 1648 and Pyrénées in 1659 that were Artois, Alsace, Pignerol, and Roussillon (included Sardinia).  It was Colbert who hired architect Louis Le Vau (Vaux le Vicomte, Versailles et al) to design the college at the level of the square court of the Louvre on the other side of the Seine. The work took from 1662 to 1688.  By 1796, the building house one of the three central schools of Paris under the name of  the  École centrale des Quatre-Nations  or four nations central school. This school closed in 1802, and by 1805,upon the request of Napoléon Ier, the Institut de France came as tenant of the building.  In the 19C, on a second court a wing was added connecting the two pavilions already there; and was  inaugurated in 1846.   It houses two rooms for work used for ordinary sessions of the Academies. While work was going on to built an auditorium by the INRAP in 2015 it was discoverd a section of the Paris ramparts wall of king Philippe Auguste including a wall, a tower, and a well dating from the reign of king Charles V.


Let me give you a bit of history on the institution itself.

The first session held here was on April 4  1796, for the museum of the French revolution or musée de la Révolution française. There is in the library of the institut de France designed and engraved by  Augustin François Lemaître,  in a dictionary of the Académie française of 1835. The French Republic has suspended all Royal academies under the new constitution of the year III article 298 established in our calendar year 1795. The Moral and political academy having no loyalty towards the revolution was eliminated by the Consulat in January 1803. The classes remaining were of  Classe des sciences physiques et mathématiques (physical science and math classes) ; Classe de langue et littérature française ( the language and French literature class) ;Classe des langues anciennes et d’histoire (old languages and history class) ; and the Classe des beaux-arts(fine arts class). In 1816, king Louis XVIII ordered reorganised the Institut and the name Academy is again re established and used to name the different classes such as  the  Académie Française , Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres , Académie des sciences, and  Académie des beaux-arts ».  By ordinance (order) of 1832 the Académie des sciences morales et politiques are ,also, re established. king of the French  Louis-Philippe gives the Institut the current configuration.

I like to put the library of the Institut de France here: Institut de France library

The principal management groups of the Institut are the chancelier,elected for 3 years by a central  administrative commission and confirm by the President of the French Republic. The Central Administrative commission is composed of Six secretaries for life and two delegates elected by the academy. The General Assembly includes the members of each academy except the Sciences that have 50 members on it. The office or board is composed of the President, Chancellor, for life Secretaries  ,director of the  Académie française , and the President of the other academies.  The President is each year the president of one of the academies and especially heads the annual science event that by tradition is held on the Tuesday closest to the date of creation of the institut (October 25), and since 2005 ,the event of prize giving to the Foundations of the Institut that is held in June.  Also, the technical commissions, special commissions and jury’s.

Nevertheless, the most important fonctions of the Institut are those of the Chancellor and the Central Administrative Commission.  The first one is the authority on the personnel, orders and purchases ,and represent the Institut in legal contracts and in justice. The Central Administrative Commission fonctions are to bring together in voice call the budget and the modifications decisions as well as other financial dispositions and the use of the rooms, buildings , etc. The members of the Academies are elected for life without any text mentioning their laidoffs; however, the President of the  French Republic can exceptionally lay them off as such was the case of  Philippe Pétain by the Académie française in 1945, and in 1989 by the Académie des beaux-arts against Claude Autant-Lara.

The Institut de France is more than the Institut.  It organises donation, bequests and legs with the form of Foundations in charge of their net worth. The most famous in my opinion is that of the Fondation d’Aumale, created in 1886  and executed by Henri d’Orléans, as a full property in 1897.  This foundation is in charge of the Domaine de Chantilly ,that includes the Château de Chantilly, collections of the museum Condé, the forest of  Chantilly, as well as other real estate around Chantilly.

There are many other such as the above including:

1904, legs of  Jacques Siegfried that included the Château de Langeais under the Fondation Siegfried. 1905, legs of Félicie Dosne, that includes the Hôtel Thiers and its library under the Fondation Thiers. 1912, legs of Nélie Jacquemart, that includes the Hôtel Jacquemart in Paris, later museum Jacquemart-André ,and the abbey of  Chaalis, under the Fondation Jacquemart-André. 1919, legs Edmond de Rotschild, that includes the Maison de l’Institut de France (house of the institut de France ) in London that is under the Fondation Edmond de Rotschild. 1920, legs Joseph Astor, that includes the mansion castle of manoir de Kerazan. 1928, legs Théodore Reinach, that includes the Villa Kérylos, from 1967, and under the Fondation Théodore Reinach. 1997, legs André Bussinger,  that includes the Château de Braux-Sainte-Cohière, under the Fondation André Bussinger et Braux-sous-Valmy.

In addition, to the above we have properties directly given to the Academies such as the Château d’Abbadia by Antoine d’Abbadie d’Arrast in 1897 , as well as the  house of  Louis Pasteur in Arbois (1992) to the  Académie des Sciences; the museum  Marmottan by Paul Marmottan  in 1932,  the Villa Ephrussi by  Béatrice Ephrussi de Rotschild in 1934, and the house of Claude Monet in Giverny  from 1966 to the Académie des beaux-arts; and the Château de Castries  in 1985 and then sold to the city of Castres in 2013 with profits coming to the Académie Française.

The Academie channel connected to the institut de France has a live broadcasts on link:  Academy Channel online

The official site of the institut de France: Institut de France

The Paris tourist office in English on the Institut de France : Paris Tourist Office on Institut de France

Complete information booklet in Frence and pdf format here: info Brochure Institut de France (French)

In finishing, my own story of this is that back around 2007-2008 I was very much involved in Paris in different groups that supported culture, arts, and monuments. As we were trying and still are to rebuilt the Palais des Tuileries , I met many French nobles (from the Orléans, Napoléon III side including Princess Napoleon) and business persons, old politicians and architects/lawyers what have you and we had our meetings at the Salon Victor Hugo of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques of the Institut de France in Paris.  Of course these pictures are not for publication but I have included one from credited sources. This is the webpage for the palais des tuileries project: Palais des Tuileries

Now enjoy the visit and see the wonders of Paris, never ceased to amazed me of the things to see here; actually, I think they are endless. Have a great week you all; happy travels, good health and enjoy life to the fullest ,its short. Cheers!!!

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