In 1784 the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo wanted to build in Florence a gallery to house the great examples of Florentine art in order to share the art with the students of the nearby Academy of Fine Arts. Thus was born the Galleria dell’Accademia. During the 1800s the gallery collected many works by Michelangelo, almost to become a “Museum of Michelangelo.” Now it houses both sculptures of the Florentine genius, than by other artists, with paintings from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.
The centrepiece of the Gallery’s collection is the David by Michelangelo, brought here in 1873. Until then, the statue was placed in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza dellaSignoria, where today there is a copy. The exposure to wind, cold and rain made some irreparably damage to the giant sculpted by Michelangelo. The David is considered one of the most important works of the Renaissance and, together with the Pietà and Moses, the most important sculpture of Michelangelo. The statue depicts the biblical hero when he is about to face the giant Goliath. It is a beloved statue by Florentines, because it symbolizes the victory of intelligence and courage against the pure force. Commissioned to be hosted in Santa Maria del Fiore, it was placed in the Piazza dellaSignoria and from that moment became the civil symbol of the Florentine Republic. Michelangelo worked to the David from 1502 to 1504, using a block of marble that had been previously used by Agostino di Duccio and Antonio Rossellino. Both artists gave up onthe sculpture because the marblewas too fragile to support the weight of a statue of 4 meters and 10. Michelangelo,instead, made some special interventions, even if over the centuries riots, lightning, political attacks, have weakened and damaged different parts of the statue. Over the centuries the David has become synonymous of perfection, symbol of eternal beauty, that despite the coldness of the marble can communicate movement and emotion through the eyes , and the body torsion which represents the prelude to the battle against Goliath.
Hall of the Colossus
The first room is called the Colossus because it housed a cast of a statue of the Dioscuri of Monte Cavallo, now no longer there. Now it houses the original plaster model of the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, the original of which is placed under the Loggia deiLanzi in Piazza dellaSignoria. On the entrance wall there are some early works by Botticelli, including an Our Lady of the Sea (1475-1480),from the convent of Santa Felicita. It takes the name from the marine landscape painting in the background and the blue Stella Maris painted on the Virgin’s dress. On one side it is now placed another work of Sandro Botticelli: The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Two Angels (1470), considered his early work. In the same room there is a Deposition of the Christ, started by Filippino Lippi and completed by Perugino, perhaps with the help of Raffaello.
Hall of Prisoners
This room houses four sculptures depicting male nudes, called Prisoners, made by Michelangelo for the tomb of Julius II. In the gallery are both the Palestrina Pietà and the San Matteo, sculpted by Michelangelo. The Prisons are not finished, a state of incomplete work voluntarily chosen by Michelangelo, to show the difficulty of the artist to make an artwork from marble, a symbol of the effort that humanity makes to free the spirit from matter.
The Hall of the Thirteenth Century
In this section there are the oldest paintings of the Galleria dell’Accademia. The most important work is the “The Tree of Life” byPacino Buonaguida, the painting that was placed inside the convent of the Poor Clares of Monticelli, Florence. The painting shows the crucified Christ on the cross and he looks like a tree with roots in the Mount Calvary. On either side are depicted the stories of Genesis, from the Creation to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise.
The Hall of Late Fourteenth Century
In this section you can admire the majestic altarpieces made between the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth, many of them with the original carpentry.
The Hall of Nineteenth Century
The most important core of the collection is made from plaster casts gallery of Lorenzo Bartolini, an important collection of plaster casts, models, or derivations from the original marble, which testifies the intense activity of the sculptor that had as clients Napoleon and the Bonaparte family, and many families of the high aristocracy and Italian and foreign bourgeoisie.
The Department of musical instruments
If you have never seen a Stradivarius closely, a visit to this section of the Gallery will be an opportunity. The Department of Musical Instruments exhibits about fifty musical instruments from the private collections of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Medici and Lorraine, collected between the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the nineteenth. These include the tenor viola by Antonio Stradivari, the violincello that was part of the same quintet, a 1716 Stradivarius violin and a violincello by Niccolò Amati of 1650.
Information for visits to the Gallery of the Accademy of Florence
Address: via Ricasolo
How to get there: walk from the Duomo along Via Ricasoli
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.15 am to 6.15 pm
Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, May 1st, Christmas
The ticket office closes at 6.20 pm
Closing operations begin at 6.40 pm
Ticket: full price € 12.50