Nudes drawn between the late 17th and 18th centuries are displayed alongside the Wallace Collection's French paintings of the same period.
Prior to the revolution, artistic practice in France was centred around the teachings of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, where the most important artists were sent to train.
Drawing of the male human figure was at the core of the curriculum and only after mastering the copying of engravings and casts of antique sculptures were the students allowed to progress to the life class.
These pictures became so associated with the school, they were referred to as 'académies'. Although the training was sometimes criticised for its rigour and insistence on discipline and uniformity, it produced some of the most skilled painters of the era, including Rigaud, Boucher, Nattier, Carle van Loo, Gros and Jean-Baptiste Isabey.
The 40 drawings which feature are on loan from the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts,inherited directly from the archives of the Academy's teaching classes.