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Syllabus  |  Programmes  |  A Final Word


The Angel Academy of Art, Florence, is a private institution that teaches drawing and painting in the old-master tradition. While this tradition began at least as early as 14th-century Italy, the curriculum and the teaching techniques are grounded on those of the 19th-century European academies and are the result of over 45 years of research and experiment by the school’s founder and studio director, Michael John Angel. This successful step-by-step process teaches the student to thoroughly appropriate the skills needed for representational painting. It gives the graduate the ability to use classic ideals and techniques for contemporary expression.


mjaM. J. Angel, born in England in 1946, has been painting and studying art since his mid-teens. Through the great Italian master, Pietro Annigoni, Mr. Angel was made aware of the lack of an effective method of teaching in the universities and public art schools. Even in Europe, where some vestiges of the old methods of cast drawing and still-life painting remain, the official schools lack the knowledge to effectively teach Realism and frustrate the student by trying to apply various 20th-century concepts to a pre-20th-century discipline. At the Angel Academy, on the other hand, the principles involved are found to be concretely teachable and, through a series of exercises over a three-year period, the student learns to master them.


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The Programmes

The Fundamental Programme evolved from a combination of Mr. Angel’s research and that of a number of students of the great American painter, R. H. Ives Gammell, whose pedigree, in turn, goes back to the 19th-century French Academy. The programme begins barguewith work from a specially prepared set of lithographs, which quickly teach the student the basic skills of accurate rendering (the Angel Academy of Art uses the best set of instructional drawings: that were made by Charles Bargue in the 19th century, at the behest of Jean-Léon Gérôme; the studio owns many of the originals). With these basic skills, the student progresses to cast work, first in charcoal, then in oil paint. From these, the student moves to still-life, the best arena in which to study colour, texture and the illusion of three dimensions. Work from the live model begins immediately in the first trimester, and is central to our programme.


To teach the utmost in accuracy and execution, the school uses the sight-size method for cast work and for still life. In the live-model rooms, however, the Angel Academy of Art teaches a system of comparative measurement in which the student learns to incorporate the conceptual with the realistic. While this system was common in the 19th-century ateliers, it is rare among modern-day Realist academies.


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The Graduate Programmes comprise two electives: Portrait Painting and Composition (both Form and Colour). Work from the live model continues.


The Angel Academy emphasizes the importance of professionalism for those who intend to pursue painting as a career. Contrary to popular belief, the profession of artist is a viable one; a properly trained painter can expect to earn a salary equivalent to that of a doctor or a lawyer. Study with us should be seen as a career investment.


The completed curriculum will allow the graduate to confidently approach and overcome the most difficult projects in drawing and painting. Using the skills, techniques, knowledge, and approach that are taught at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence, works of art of the highest possible quality can be made.

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A Final Word

The Academy’s method is that of individual instruction in a group setting. That is, each student is evaluated on an ongoing basis and advances largely in accordance with the time and effort he or she can invest. Since the programme is a succession of carefully designed projects, a student’s prior training and experience do not influence the assignments given; the rate of progress depends only on the speed at which instruction is absorbed. In general, the atelier atmosphere at the Angel Academy is relaxed and convivial. Competition is friendly, and there is an air of support and respect among both students and instructors: their goals are, after all, mutual.




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