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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: May 2020

Chapter IV - Damrosch Fellowship Years at the American Academy in Rome (1922-25)


A man who has not been in Italy,

is always conscious of an inferiority,

from his not having seen what it is

expected a man should see.

(Jules Massenet)


The idea of establishing a place in Europe where American architects, paint¬ers, and sculptors could congregate and study had taken root when a group was planning for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A temporary American School for Architects in Rome was established in 1894, but this was dissolved after two years and reformed as the American Acad¬emy in Rome. Just after the turn of the century, with the financial assistance of founding members from New York including J. P. Morgan, J. P. Morgan Jr., John D. Rockefeller Jr., and the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations among others, an endowment was established. After functioning in various locations, the Academy was finally situated at the Villa Aurelia on Rome's Janiculum Hill and in buildings on adjacent land subsequently purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. and transferred to the American Academy. Eighteen years later, the American School of Classical Studies merged with the Acad¬emy thus combining fine arts and classical studies under the auspices of a single administration.

In 1915 Academy Secretary C. Grant La Fargue cogently summarized the Academy's intent.

The Academy is not a school; it is not for technical training or the teaching of any rudiments; it does not have classes nor does it even impose a very rigid, prescribed course. Its beneficiaries are those who have already advanced far beyond the preliminary stages of their various callings; fre-quently they may be people ready to embark, or who have embarked, upon their professional careers. All of them come to Rome for the enlargement and fuller development of their knowledge and talents through first-hand contact with the record of the past. Next—and this cannot be too plainly or too emphatically stated—what the Academy offers, its Prize of Rome, is not meant to be a benevolent assistance to worthy youth, but the means whereby the best material discoverable may be raised to its highest powers for the elevation of American art and letters… . Fellowships in Music will be established when Lamond's are available; there are similar and equally cogent reasons for the advanced study of this art in Italy as in the case of the other arts.

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