Frequently Asked Questions

Who are these artists?

The artists mapped on Artists in Paris were all members of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture – the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture – between 1675 and 1793.

How many artists/addresses have been mapped?

The database behind this website contains an entry for every artist who was a member of the Academy between 1675 (when comprehensive address records began) and 1793 (when the Academy was disbanded during the French Revolution). This comes to a total of 471 artists.

There is an address record for each artist for every year that they were a member of the Academy, that is, from the year they were admitted, until the year of their death (unless they left earlier, e.g. if they were expelled). Some artists had long careers, some very short; some artists moved home a lot, others stayed in the same place for their entire career. In total, there are 10,915 addresses in the database.

Every address in the database has been transcribed from an original historical source, manually compiled into a bespoke database, and geolocated so it can be plotted on georeferenced maps.

Are any artists not included?

Yes and no. Every artist admitted (reçu) by the Academy between 1675 and 1793 has been included. But there were lots of artists working in Paris during this period who were not members of the Academy. Many of these other artists worked as members of the city Guild (also known as the Maîtrise, the Communauté des peintres et sculpteurs de Paris, or the Académie de Saint-Luc). The records of the Guild are not as systematic as those of the Academy. So these artists haven’t been included because it hasn’t been possible here to map their addresses in the same comprehensive way.

Why are the markers different colours?

Each colour represents the artist’s media (e.g. engraver, sculptor) or genre (e.g. history painter, still life painter). When an artist was admitted to the Academy, he or she had to present a reception piece; the genre/media of that artwork determined their designation.

In addition to the main types, there is also an ‘other’ category for some of the less frequent genre and media. Included as ‘other’ are: medal engravers, miniaturists, fête galante painters, decorative painters, battle painters, enamel painters, and gem engravers.

Some artists were admitted to the Academy in one genre but mostly practiced in another (e.g. Jean-Marc Nattier was admitted as a history painter but is known mostly for his portraits). These artists are classified in this website according to their Academy designation.

Why are the types of artist arranged in that order?

The order in which the artists’ media and genres are listed corresponds with their hierarchy in the Academy, where sculpture and history painting were valued more highly than ‘lesser’ categories like portraiture, genre painting, landscape, still life, and engraving.

What are the other markers on the map?

The markers shaped like a building icon indicate the locations of art-world sites or other places of interest. These include places where some artists worked (like the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, the Sèvres porcelain manufactory, or the Paris mint), as well as more general city sites to help orient explorations (like public squares, and important buildings).

Why doesn’t the website just use a map of contemporary Paris?

The city of Paris has undergone substantial urban development since the 18th century. These developments have changed the shape of the city, with the construction of new streets, squares and buildings; the destruction of old streets, buildings, and sometimes entire neighbourhoods; and the renaming of many streets and places.

If these artists’ 18th-century addresses had been plotted on a contemporary map, many of them wouldn't make any sense. Instead, the website uses georeferenced historical maps (digital images of 18th-century maps embedded with spatial reference co-ordinates using Map Warper), which have been superimposed over a contemporary map of Paris (data from OpenStreetMap, design by Stamen Design). Following this approach, the 18th-century addresses make sense, but at the same time it is possible to make connections with places in the city today.

What are the 18th-century maps?

The maps used are:

What historical sources have been used?

The website’s demographic data (the artists’ addresses) have been retrieved from two main archival sources: a membership ledger kept by the Academy’s concierge between 1675 and 1751 (now in the collection of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts), and from the Almanachs Royaux printed annually up to the French Revolution, after which they became the Almanachs Nationaux (sets of which have been digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de France).

The website’s bibliographic data (the artists’ names, birth and death dates, birthplaces, years admitted to the Academy, etc) have been retrieved from a variety of sources including: the Procès-Verbaux de l’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, ed. Anatole de Montaiglon, 10 vols (Paris: J. Baur, 1875); Benezit Dictionary of Artists; and Grove Art Online.

What is the difference between ‘Year’ and ‘Artist’ in the navigation panel?

Year and Artist provide two different ways of searching the maps.

In Year mode, the map displays the addresses of every artist for a single year. You can use the slider to change the year to compare where artists were living at different moments across the century. Underneath the slider is a key showing the different media and genre; the number beside the category indicates how many members there were of that type in the given year.

In Artist mode, the map displays all the addresses that an individual artist lived at throughout their career at the Academy. The navigation panel displays some biographical information about the artist and a list of their addresses in chronological order.

Why do some years have no markers at all?

There are three years for which no address data has yet been found: 1711 and 1712 (which are missing from the Academy’s register); and 1792 (which was omitted from the annual Almanachs as France switched from the Gregorian to the Republican calendar during the French Revolution). In Year mode, the map is currently blank for these dates. And in Artist mode, there is a gap for these years in the individual records.

Are there other gaps in the records?

There are sometimes small, random gaps in artists’ individual records. Occasionally in the annual lists, an artist’s address was inexplicably left out, with just a hyphen next to their name, or simply a blank gap (perhaps they didn’t submit their address to the Academy’s concierge before it was time to print the list!). In these instances, when the address in the years before and after the gap is the same, the missing year has been filled with that address. But when there has been an address change somewhere between the recorded years, the missing year has been left blank (so the artist won’t appear on the map for the missing year). An example is Jean Raoux, whose address was omitted from the Academy’s annual list in 1721.

How accurate are the markers?

In 18th-century France, there were no house numbers, so addresses were often vague by modern standards. The most accurate addresses are those where the name of a building was given (e.g. Maurice-Quentin de La Tour in the Galerie du Louvre). In other instances, the information given was usually a street name with some further details of nearest cross-street or other landmark to indicate the location more precisely (e.g. Jean-François de Troy on Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, opposite Rue Vivienne). In the rare cases where the street name was given with no further information, the address marker has been placed in the middle of the street (e.g. Geneviève de Boullogne on Rue de Richelieu).

How do I cite this website?

If you use Artists in Paris in an article, book, website, or any other forum, please cite it in the following way:

Hannah Williams & Chris Sparks, Artists in Paris: Mapping the 18th-Century Art World, (accessed [insert today’s date])

If you use the maps or data in a research publication, please get in touch so your work can be added to the site bibliography in Publications & Research.

What are some examples of interesting searches I can do?

If you would like some specific suggestions for searches, have a look at our Guide to get some ideas of what to look for and how to go about it.

Where can I learn more about the making of Artists in Paris? Where can I learn more about findings from this project?

There is more information about the project on the About page and on the Publications & Research page. On the latter, you’ll find articles to read and talks to watch. Some of these are about the project itself and the methods of digital art history, and others use the maps and data to explore the geography and demography of artistic communities in 18th-century Paris.

I’ve found a mistake. What should I do?

Given the vast amount of data included in the website, it’s likely that there will be some errors that we haven’t yet caught. In order to correct these, it would be very helpful to have them reported. If you spot anything that looks like a mistake, or if you have information that might fill one of the gaps, please email Hannah Williams.

The site isn’t working properly. What should I do?

Sometimes websites break, so if the information isn’t loading, search functions aren’t working, or if anything seems to be going wrong, please email Hannah Williams.

My question isn’t on this list. How do I get an answer?

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered above, please get in touch with Hannah Williams.