The Academy was founded in 1648, by King Louis XIV modelled on Italian examples, such as the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Paris already had the Académie de Saint-Luc, which was a city artist guild like any other Guild of Saint Luke. The purpose of this academy was to professionalize the artists working for the French court and give them a stamp of approval that artists of the St. Luke's guild did not have.
According to the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, the academy was a result of "squabbles that arose between the Master Painters and Sculptors of Paris, and Painters protected by the King." In response to harassment from the other painters, a group of royal painters formed a plan for an academy, and obtained a ruling from the Conseil d'Etat for it to be established.