A long history with a royal legacy
The history of the Royal Institute of Art dates back to 1735. For a long time, the school was part of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which grew out of the drawing school established during the construction of the Stockholm Castle.
By parliamentary decree in 1766, the Academy secured its mandate, and its statutes were drafted by Gustav III in 1773. This was done using the French arts institution, Académie des Beaux-Arts, as a model. The school consisted of a painting and sculpture school, as well as an architecture school. Instruction was given in architecture, print-making, anatomy, perspective, cultural history and painting, with a special emphasis on classical Greek and Roman art and culture. In 1775, the Academy moved to the palace donated by the statue- and bell-caster Gerhard Meyer. Because of its history at the Meyerska palace, the art school was given its nickname Mejan.
A central institution for art
Under royal patronage, the Academy became the central institution for Swedish art and architecture, and maintained a constant dialogue with the court and aristocracy as its chief commissioners.
During the 1880s, the Academy’s dominant position was challenged by a new generation of younger painters, including Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson and Ernst Josephson. They were artistically influenced by the emergence of modernism and its egalitarian ideals, and demanded student influence.
This battle did not end until the school was reformed in 1909, becoming a state institution for higher education. It was also at this point the school got its current name, the Royal Institute of Art. The institute was divided into three schools – drawing, painting and sculpture – as well as a two-year architecture school.
During the remainder of the 20th century, the school came to produce most of the leading artists in the Swedish art world, many of whom returned as professors. This group includes Lennart Rohde, Olle Nyman, Evert Lundquist, Torsten Andersson, Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, P.O. Ultvedt, Marie-Louise Ekman, Ann-Sofi Sidén and Ann Edholm.
The Royal Institute of Art was formally separated from the Academy in 1978, and was reorganized under the direction of the Swedish state. However, the institute was still on the same premises as the Academy, and it took until 1995 before it moved to its current location on Skeppsholmen.