Accademia Gallery Florence
What to See
What to see at the Accademia Gallery?
The Accademia Gallery is one of the world’s most fascinating and breath-taking museums. Every year, it welcomes more than 1.46 billion visitors, according to a 2016 study, making it the second-most visited art museum in Italy, only after the Uffizi Museum. Located in the heart of the city centre of Florence, just nearby the renowned Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of fine arts), it is a specialized art museum which holds mainly artworks from the 1300-1600s, primarily known as the Late Renaissance. Its halls have seen many changes over the centuries. They have hosted some of the most beautiful art pieces of the Renaissance era, such as the most captivating Michelangelo’s sculpture, the David.
The history behind these thick and voluptuous walls is rich and full of enchanting secrets. The Accademia Gallery was firstly founded in 1784 by Pietro Leopoldo, who at the time was the Grand Duke of Tuscany. At first, the building was part of a former hospital, but the Grand Duke decided to re-found the Academy of fine arts and use those halls to house paintings and sculptures that students could use as an example to imitate. However, the building soon became a huge collection of artworks, becoming a landmark in an artist’s career, to be exposed between those walls.
A few years later, in 1875, the city of Florence celebrated the 400th anniversary of Michelangelo‘s birth. In part, this decision was taken because Michelangelo’s most significant artwork, the David, was already stored in that building in 1783 so that it could be preserved properly and taken care of. However, the project quickly became bigger and more splendid, including many different artworks. Therefore, the committee decided to reorganize this location as a ‘Michelangelo’s Museum‘, where to put on display and collect all of the fantastic pieces of the artist.
The place was populated with countless copies of its artworks to celebrate his talent. The building was also expanded with two new corridors at the extremes to host many other artists’ artworks in the Museum. They were divided into ‘Old Paintings‘ (with art pieces from the painter Angelico) and the ‘Big Paintings‘ (from the Perugino).
Unfortunately, this arrangement didn’t last long and, from 1914, many artworks were relocated because of an agreement with the State, giving a new shape and future to the Accademia Gallery. Nowadays, this magnificent Art Museum offers paintings and art pieces, ranging from the 13th to the 16th century, executed by some of the most talented artists from these centuries.
The list is long and variated: Paolo Uccello, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Andrea del Sarto, Giambologna and many others. The Gallery expanded its themes, offering paintings and art pieces from different artists, eras and styles. The building has been organized into various halls to manage better the cultural heritage that beholds this building and provide a wonderful experience to the Museum’s visitors.
The Accademia Gallery: how it is organized
As was mentioned before, up to this day, the building has a new organization, created to provide visitors with a complete and peaceful experience through the artworks in the Museums. The place has been divided into different halls, each dedicated to a particular theme, era, and style of art techniques or artistic movement. Some of these halls are also committed to a singular artist and their art pieces to fully represent the artist’s value and talent. The halls in the Museums are the following ones:
- The Colosseum Hall – This Hall has been named after one artwork from the ‘Dioscuri di Montecavallo’, which is now located in Rome. It hosts the original piece from the Rape of the Sabines and many other pieces from Florence’s ‘400-500 painting scenes.
- The Prisons Hall – Once used as the ‘Old Paintings Hall’, nowadays it contains the Salves by Michelangelo and many other beautiful masterpieces, such as the Pietà di Palestrina and Saint Matthew, by Michelangelo.
- The David Hall – An entire hall selected to portray Michelangelo’s renowned masterpiece, along with other pieces from the Manneristic School by other artists, such as Allori, Bronzino, Gamberucci, Salviati and many more.
- The ‘800s Hall – This hall was created from the old women-only ward of the old Saint Matthew Hospital, which was the former establishment of the building, but nowadays, it is used as the main showcase for paintings and artworks from the 800s. The most renowned opera from this hall are the sculptures by Lorenzo Bartolini.
- The ‘200-300s Hall – This hall represents the pride of the Italian Gothic movement, mainly by artists that were precedent to the most famous ones, such as Giotto.
- The Giotto Hall – The historical representation of the Gothic movement in Italy continues in this hall, wholly dedicated to Giotto, the main exponent of this style.
- The Orcagna Hall – This Hall is mainly focused on the exposition of three artists that were most famous and active during the XIV century; the ‘Orcagna’, which comes from the Florentine dialect and stand for ‘The Arcangelo’ (the alias of Andrea di Cione), Nardo di Cione and Jacopo di Cione.
- The Giovanni da Milano Hall – This hall represents the main artwork of this artist, Giovanni da Milano.
- The Late ‘300s Hall – The room is set up with works made between the late 14th and early 15th centuries by Giovanni del Biondo, Mariotto di Nardo, Rossello di Jacopo Franchi, and Spinello Aretino.
- The Lorenzo de Monaco Hall – In this hall, there is an extensive collection of artworks by the artist Lorenzo Monaco, varying in style and time, along with a small collection of Russian Icons that belonged to the Lorena family.
- The International Gothic Hall – Lastly, this room contains a great variety of paintings and art pieces dated to the Gothic movement and coming from all over the world.
Accademia Gallery Florence What to See: main artworks
The Accademia Gallery hosts some of the most splendid art pieces in Italy, giving them the dutiful space and respect they need. Millions of visitors and art connoisseurs dream and wait to stand in the Museum line just to have a small chance to admire such breathtaking artworks. Here are the most famous ones!
David by Michelangelo
The David of Michelangelo is the most renowned and appreciated sculpture in Renaissance Italian culture. The artist was inspired by the biblical scene and created such an incredible masterpiece that, up to these days, has been praised by experts because of its artistic value.
Michelangelo wisely mixed traditions and innovations in this artwork by resuming the Ancient Greeks‘ beauty ideals and standards but giving it a whole new twist. The sculptor decided to represent the mythical figure by portraying it with pain-killing precision, from the muscles’ curves to the curls of the hair.
Art connoisseurs also remember the statue because of the magnificent details of the face. The broad but still strong look in David‘s eyes remarks the meaning that it beholds for the entire city of Florence: in fact, such as David succeeded in defeating the threat of Goliath, the city of Florence, throughout history, stood proud against the surrounding reigns and defended its free will, at the root of its Republic, its ideal and its population.
Rape of the Sabines by Jean de Boulogne
This is a wonderful masterpiece, a marble sculpture created between 1574 and 1580 by the artist Jean de Boulogne. It represents one of the most representative and beautiful depictions of the Mannerism style. The art piece was created inspired by a mythological scene.
According to the legend, after Rome‘s foundation, Romulus sought help from the surrounding populations to make the new city flourish. However, at the denial of the Sabines, the Romans decided to take the matter into their own hands by attacking the Sabines and disrespecting their women. The statue shows a young girl being held down while she tries to escape by a young man and an old one. Because of this depiction, the experts call the sculpture ‘the three ages of man.
This artwork has been praised because of its many artistic values: in fact, the art piece was created from a single marble piece, resuming the ancient classic beauty standards and values, but it also gives a sense of vibrancy and movement because of the figures’ poses and the multiple points of views.
Coronation of the Virgin by Jacopo Di Cione
This incredible painting on the panel, richly decorated with a golden fond, has also been renowned as the ‘Coronation of the Coin Hall’. The artwork was commissioned around 1373 by the officers of the Florentine magistracy, who superintended the minting of the Florin.
The painting was later placed in the old Mint building near the Palazzo dei Priori until 1863, then moved to the Uffizi and finally to the Galleria dell’Accademia.
In the panel, the artist recreated the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, surrounded, on a second level, by the Saints Protectors of the city of Florence: Saint John Baptist, Saint Catherine, Saint Anne, Saint Matthew, Saint Victor the Pope, St. John the Evangelist, St. Reparata, St. Anthony, St. Barnabas and St. Zanobi. The choice of the Saints is very detailed and meaningful since it entails a significant purpose, which is the fusion of religious duty with the civic sense.
We can also detect two important elements at the bottom of the ends: the nine crests most important in the city, the Alberti family, the Arte di Calimala, the Lily of Florence, the Angevin coat of arms, the Seal of Florence, the emblem of the Anjou Durazzo family, the Guelf one, the Arte del Cambio, and finally the components of the Davanzati family.
Slaves by Michelangelo
This name refers to a group of six sculptures created by Michelangelo Buonarroti around 1525-1530. The art pieces were made on a commission to decorate the Tomb of Pope Julius II and celebrate its variegated and meaningful life. Unfortunately, not all the project statues are present at the Accademia Gallery, but the Museum still offers a significant part of them to admire.
The meaning behind the statues is unknown, but experts have developed some theories about them. Mostly, they have an aesthetic purpose so that the architectural space can be enhanced and enriched. However, according to some theories, the Slaves represented could also represent the regions that were part of Pope Julius‘ domain.
There are other meaningful theories, such as the figures representing the artist’s struggles or the personifications of the Arts that, after the Pope’s death, have been enslaved and are demanding justice. The style of the sculptures is incomplete, but despite all of this, it is clear the inspiration behind coming from the Ancient Hellenic style, like in the Lacoonte Group.
The Cassone Adimari by Scheggia
This incredible masterpiece from around 1450 is a painting on a panel, created by the artist ‘Lo Scheggia‘ or ‘The Splinter‘. The panel has been called this way because it represents and celebrates the Adimari family, one of Florence’s most renowned and wealthiest families.
The scene is set in a city street once dedicated to the family because of their many possessions. The painting represents a huge wedding, probably one of the families’ weddings with other noble groups. The painting represents a clear example of the Gothic movement in Italy, which can be deducted by the use of colours and the depiction of the noblemen’s richly embellished robes and clothes.
The surrounding area is also painted with excellent precision skills, so much so that the buildings can be recognized.