The establishment of a Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Spain was first proposed by painter Antonio Meléndez, who suggested the idea in 1726 to king Philip V for the creation of an Academy of Arts for design, painting, sculpture and architecture.
Today, the Museum at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts houses over 1,400 paintings, 600 sculptures and 15,000 drawings, as well as an excellent collection of decorative arts objects including tapestries, silverware, ceramics, porcelain, clocks, furniture and medals.
The Academy’s permanent collection contains masterpieces of Spanish, Italian and Flemish art. The museum has 13 paintings by Francisco de Goya, who was a member from 1780, amongst which there are two self-portraits, the Corrida de Toros (Bullfight), the portraits of Moratín, Juan de Villanueva, the actress La Tirana and the Carnival scene known as the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine).
The Academy is home to the Museum, the Archive-Library, the Castings Workshop, and the National Hand Engraving Collection, which encompasses a series of plates engraved by the most eminent Spanish artists, including the copper plate etchings made by Francisco de Goya, masterpieces in the universal history of engraving.