DISCOVER GALLERIA DELL'ACCADEMIA IN FLORENCE

The Galleria dell’accademia, or Accademia Gallery, in Florence, Italy, is without a doubt most famous for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist: Michelangelo.

The most famous section of the Galleria is surely the Hall of the Prisoners, displaying Michelangelo’s unfinished “Slaves”. Next to the Tribuna of David one can find a series of paintings by Alessandro Allori which are a delightful template of flowers symbolism.

Galleria dell’accademia has housed the original David by Michelangelo since 1873. The sculpture was allegedly brought to the Accademia from its previous outdoor location on Piazza della Signoria firstly because of conservation issues, and also with the intention to create a Michelangelo museum, filled with his original sculptures and drawings in order to celebrate the fourth centenary of the Artist’s birth.

Today, the gallery’s small collection of Michelangelo’s work includes his four unfinished Prisoners, intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, and a statue of Saint Matthew, also unfinished.

The “David” in the Accademia is the original, while that located in Piazza della Signoria is a replica.

Come and discover the world’s most famous gallery, full of historical and artistic treasures signed by the great Michelangelo. Book one of our tour and explore this peace of history with an expert guide.

Tickets Included
Private tour for couples and small groups
Departure from an agreed meeting point or pick-up to Poggio Baronti
Professional guide
Tour of the Accademia Gallery
Return to an agreed meeting point or Poggio Baronti
About 3 hours tour
Languages: Italian, English + French, Spanish and German on request

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, or “Gallery of the Academy of Florence”, is an art museum in Florence, Italy. It is best known as the home of Michelangelo‘s sculpture David. It also has other sculptures by Michelangelo and a large collection of paintings by Florentine artists, mostly from the period 1300-1600, the Trecento to the Late Renaissance. It is smaller and more specialized than the Uffizi, the main art museum in Florence. It adjoins the Accademia di Belle Arti or academy of fine arts of Florence, but despite the name has no other connection with it.

David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created in marble between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo. David is a 5.17-metre (17.0 ft) marble statue of a standing male nude. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence.

David was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, but was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria where it was unveiled on September 8, 1504.

Because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defence of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.

The statue was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, in 1873, and later replaced at the original location by a replica.

Interpretation:

The pose of Michelangelo’s David is unlike that of earlier Renaissance depictions of David. The bronze statues by Donatello and Verrocchio represented the hero standing victorious over the head of Goliath, and the painter Andrea del Castagno had shown the boy in mid-swing, even as Goliath’s head rested between his feet, but no earlier Florentine artist had omitted the giant altogether.

According to Helen Gardner and other scholars, David is depicted before his battle with Goliath. Instead of being shown victorious over a foe much larger than he, David looks tense and ready for combat.

The statue appears to show David after he has made the decision to fight Goliath but before the battle has actually taken place, a moment between conscious choice and action. His brow is drawn, his neck tense and the veins bulge out of his lowered right hand. His left hand holds a sling that is draped over his shoulder and down to his right hand, which holds a rock.

The twist of his body effectively conveys to the viewer the feeling that he is in motion, an impression heightened with contrapposto.

The statue is a Renaissance interpretation of a common ancient Greek theme of the standing heroic male nude. In the High Renaissance, contrapposto poses were thought of as a distinctive feature of antique sculpture. This is typified in David, as the figure stands with one leg holding its full weight and the other leg forward. This classic pose causes the figure’s hips and shoulders to rest at opposing angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso.

The contrapposto is emphasised by the turn of the head to the left, and by the contrasting positions of the arms.

Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissance sculpture, a symbol of strength and youthful beauty.

Just the colossal size of the statue impressed Michelangelo’s contemporaries. Vasari described it as “certainly a miracle that of Michelangelo, to restore to life one who was dead,” and then listed all of the largest and most grand of the ancient statues that he had ever seen, concluding that Michelangelo’s work surpassed “all ancient and modern statues, whether Greek or Latin, that have ever existed.”

The proportions of the David are atypical of Michelangelo’s work; the figure has an unusually large head and hands (particularly apparent in the right hand).

The small size of the genitals, though, is in line with his other works and with Renaissance conventions in general, perhaps referencing the ancient Greek ideal of pre-pubescent male nudity. These enlargements may be due to the fact that the statue was originally intended to be placed on the cathedral roofline, where the important parts of the sculpture may have been accentuated in order to be visible from below.

The statue is unusually slender (front to back) in comparison to its height, which may be a result of the work done on the block before Michelangelo began carving it.

It is possible that the David was conceived as a political statue before Michelangelo began to work on it. Certainly David the giant-killer had long been seen as a political figure in Florence, and images of the Biblical hero already carried political implications there.

Donatello’s bronze David, made for the Medici family, perhaps c. 1440, had been appropriated by the Signoria in 1494, when the Medici were exiled from Florence, and the statue was installed in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Signoria, where it stood for the Republican government of the city. By placing Michelangelo’s statue in the same general location, the Florentine authorities ensured that David would be seen as a political parallel as well as an artistic response to that earlier work. These political overtones led to the statue being attacked twice in its early days. Protesters pelted it with stones the year it debuted, and, in 1527, an anti-Medici riot resulted in its left arm being broken into three pieces.

Commentators have noted the presence on David’s penis of his foreskin, which is at odds with the Judaic practice of circumcision, but is consistent with the conventions of Renaissance art.

Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio. It is the main point of the origin and history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists, located near Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo and gateway to Uffizi Gallery.

Buildings:

The impressive 14th-century Palazzo Vecchio is still preeminent with its crenellated tower. The square is also shared with the Loggia della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palace of the Tribunale della Mercanzia (1359) (now the Bureau of Agriculture), and the Palazzo Uguccioni (1550, with a facade attributed to Raphael, who however died thirty years before its construction). Located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is the Palace of the Assicurazioni Generali (1871, built in Renaissance style).

Palazzo Vecchio:The Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) is the town hall of the city. This massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Overlooking the square with its copy of Michelangelo’s David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, and it hosts cultural points and museums.

Originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it was also given several other names: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, and Palazzo Ducale, in accordance with the varying use of the palace during its long history. The building acquired its current name when the Medici duke’s residence was moved across the Arno to the Palazzo Pitti.

Loggia dei Lanzi: The Loggia dei Lanzi consists of wide arches open to the street, three bays wide and one bay deep. The arches rest on clustered pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The wide arches appealed so much to the Florentines, that Michelangelo even proposed that they should be continued all around the Piazza della Signoria. The vivacious construction of the Loggia is in stark contrast with the severe architecture of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art including the Medici lions.

Tribunale della Mercanzia:The Tribunale della Mercanzia (Tribunal of Merchandise) is a building where in the past lawyers judged in the trial between merchants. Here was a porch painted by Taddeo Gaddi, Antonio del Pollaiolo and Sandro Botticelli, today stored in the Uffizi gallery.

Palazzo Uguccioni:Built for Giovanni Uguccioni since 1550, its design has been variously attributed to Raphael, Michelangelo, Bartolomeo Ammannati or Raffaello da Montelupo.

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali: The Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871, and is one of the very few purpose-built commercial buildings in the centre of the city. On the ground floor of this palace is the historical cafè Rivoire.

Other palaces:Other palaces are the palazzo dei Buonaguisi and the palazzo dell’Arte dei Mercatanti.

Statues:
Various imposing statues ring this square including:

  1. Copy of Michelangelo’s David. at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio; the original by Michelangelo is housed in the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts.
  2. Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I, honoring Cosimo I de’ Medici and sculpted by Giambologna (1594)
  3. Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati (1575)
  4. Il Marzocco, (the Lion) with a copy of the “Florentine Lily“, originally made by Donatello (copy)
  5. Judith and Holofernes, by Donatello (copy)
  6. Hercules and Cacus, by Bandinelli (1533)
  7. The Rape of the Sabine Women, in the Loggia dei Lanzi by Giambologna
  8. Perseus with the Head of Medusa, in the Loggia dei Lanzi by Cellini (1554)
  9. Medici lions, by Fancelli and Vacca (1598)

The piazza was already a central square in the original Roman town Florentia, surrounded by a theatre, Roman baths and a workshop for dyeing textiles. Later there was a church San Romolo, a loggia and an enormous 5th-century basilica. This was shown by the archaeological treasures found beneath the square when it was repaved in the 1980s. Even remains of a Neolithic site were found.

The square started taking shape from 1268 on, when houses of Ghibellines were pulled down by the victorious Guelphs.

The square remained a long time untidy, full of holes. In 1385 it was paved for the first time. In 1497 Girolamo Savonarola and his followers carried out on this square the famous Bonfire of the Vanities, burning in a large pile books, gaming tables, fine dresses, and works of poets. In front of the fountain of Neptune, a round marble plaque marks the exact spot where Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned on May 23, 1498.

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