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Galleria dell'Accademia

text Rossella Battista

May 2, 2022

Accademia Gallery: must-see rooms and artworks

Our itinerary to discover one of the most beautiful places in Florence

A new light for Michelangelo's David housed in the Tribuna of the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. The event LUCI SUL DAVID concludes the project, promoted by Enel and realised ex-novo by Enel X, to provide the works of the Florentine museum with perfect, modern, state-of-the-art artistic lighting, aimed at energy saving and efficiency, through the use of the latest LED technologies.

The lighting project aims to bring the dynamism of sunlight back into the David Tribune. A series of projectors ideally placed in a radial pattern above the statue itself, have been installed in the area of the large skylight in the existing holes, readjusting their fixing without altering the view. The new-generation luminaires with LED source are equipped with a beam aperture such that they totally envelop the David and leave the rest of the space that houses him in the background, which will instead be equipped with a separately controlled, artificial lighting system. During daylight hours, the artificial lighting will be added to the natural lighting coming from the skylight, allowing for a completely new interpretation of the details of Michelangelo's masterpiece. The artificial system regulates the colour variation during the hours of the day: the projectors have different colour temperatures so that the David can be seen not only illuminated from various perspectives, but also with a variable colour appearance. To illuminate the Galleria dei Prigioni, on the other hand, projection lighting was used from the frame on both sides of the Gallery.

For Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, "there is no better way to celebrate 140 years - since the Tribuna opened to the public on 22 July 1882. A new source of light floods into the heart of the museum, enhancing the surfaces of Michelangelo's masterpiece'.

Luci sul David: inaugurazione del nuovo impianto di illuminazione del David di Michelangelo


HERE IS OUR TOUR TO DISCOVER ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES OF ART IN FLORENCE.

A city that over the centuries had emptied of people and was populated by hospitals and convents. Too many for the enlightened Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine, who suppressed several of them in 1784. Napoleon would later do the same. But it is thanks to these suppressions that Florence boasts the most complete collection of gold plates.

Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze © Guido Cozzi

This is how the Accademia was born. Pietro Leopoldo united the hospital of San Matteo and the convent of San Niccolò and created the first school of modern art, daughter of the Accademia del Disegno, created in 1563 by Giorgio Vasari at the behest of Cosimo I. But not even a century later the protagonist was Michelangelo. We are in the years when Florence was the capital, and so in 1873 Emilio De Fabris was commissioned to create a setting for the David. The result was an exedra. In 1909 the Prigioni arrived from Buontalenti's grotto in Boboli. And in 2001 the precious collection of antique musical instruments was opened. So let's wander aimlessly.

HERE not to miss our interview with Cecilia, Director of the Gallery and HERE the events to celebrate the 140th anniversary of David in the Tribuna dell'Accademia.

SALA DEL COLOSSO

This is where the major protagonists of 15th-century Florence meet, from Domenico di Michelino to Botticelli, from Botticini to Ghirlandaio, from Paolo Uccello to Cosimo Rosselli and Baldovinetti. Or artists who wanted to be noticed at all costs, such as Giambologna who around 1580 created a 4-metre plaster cast just to show the Medici how much he was worth. The Flemish artist thus created the Rape of the Sabine Women in unbaked clay but of the same size (which is rare) as the statue (in the Loggia della Signoria). The three figures twist in a spiral offering three different points of view: Giambologna gets the spot. And the world the Mannerist sculpture. The recently restored room also contains Alesso Baldovinetti's Trinity, Perugino's Vallombrosa Altarpiece and its incredible destiny as it was requisitioned by Napoleon, and Filippino's Deposition for Santissima Annunziata. The artist died in 1505 without completing it, so the Servite Fathers had Perugino finish it, leaving us with one of the most intriguing works of art: the upper part is lively and animated, the lower part calm and soft. And again, deserving a room of its own, the only non-sacred work: the Cassone Adimari by Scheggia, Masaccio's younger brother. An expert decorator of wood, he leaves us one of the most beautiful pages of courtly life. The rich wedding in the Adimari house where guests and bride and groom dance in beautiful clothes. Just as Paolo Uccello's Thebaid should be read as a vademecum for monks. The artist, a lover of perspective, manages to include saints and aspects of monastic life. New features include a new, state-of-the-art lighting system, designed to ensure a better view of the works and energy efficiency.

sala del colosso

SALE DEGLI STRUMENTI MUSICALI

Around forty instruments from the Medici and Lorraine collections, all in perfect working order. Among the gems: a cello by Niccolò Amati from 1650, some violins and a tenor viola by Stradivari intact in all its parts. There is also a marble psaltery and an oval spinet created for the Medici by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. And then drums and trumpets to satisfy the loudest tastes of the Lorraine band.

LA SALA DI MICHELANGELO

It presents itself as a great nave where Neoplatonic culture is offered in all its facets with the perfection of David and the imperfection of the human being, the Prisoners, who futilely aspire to the supreme without ever reaching it. They try to free themselves from the burden of physical and psychological captivity: the flesh that prevents the soul from soaring. And perhaps this is also why the artist's early work captivates us. The marble, a single block that Agostino di Duccio had attempted to work on in the mid-15th century, immediately appeared old and defective. It was a challenge that 24-year-old Michelangelo would take up at the beginning of the 16th century. He had to make a statue to put on the buttresses of the Duomo. He worked on it for four years. And in the end he made a masterpiece, in a classical key: the contraposto pose, the nudity of the ancient heroes, the anatomical perfection. Even if the hand and head are too big. But it had to be placed high up and should not go unnoticed. David, who here is no longer a boy but already a young man, is, for the first time in the history of statuary, caught in the few moments before the action: he is thinking of the exact moment when he will have to throw the stone at Goliath. We can imagine the rest. Michelangelo enters modernity by giving his protagonists the task of narrating the impending. It is 1504 and the proud Florence has driven out the Medici, executed Savonarola and is ready to challenge the Pope. David is the little hero who wins over the powerful, so he is requisitioned and placed in Piazza della Signoria, where Luigi Arrighetti's copy now stands. The fate of the Prisoners was different: they were supposed to embellish the tomb of Julius II but they never reached their destination because the pope was buried in St Peter in Chains with a greatly reduced monument. However, Michelangelo worked on it until the end and when his nephew died, he gave it to Cosimo I. It is here that enthusiasts ponder the meaning of unfinished, a typical technique of the artist who only left some parts sketched out, and incomplete. As is the case with San Matteo, also destined for the Duomo, which was left half-finished. Imperceptible differences can be seen in the different use of chisels and drills: St. Matthew does not have polished parts, which is what the prisoners have (the Atlas, the Bearded, the Young and the Rededicated). In the hypothetical transept, on either side of the David, we find some artists who left their mark on Mannerism and the Counter-Reformation, from Carlo Portelli with his scandalous Dispute on the Immaculate Conception, Bronzino, Allori and finally Santi di Tito, the greatest exponent of the sober Counter-Reformation.

GIPSOTECA

The room houses the plaster casts by Lorenzo Bartolini that his family donated to the Academy in 1850. Here are busts of artists, musicians and, above all, a host of unknown protagonists of the various grand tours who had themselves portrayed in the antique style. These include the Demidoff monument in Lungarno Serristori.

Gipsoteca Lorenzo Bartolini

SALE DI GIOTTO E DEI GIOTTESCHI

The ground floor ends with three significant rooms: the first with works from Giotto's period, featuring Pacino di Buonaguida's Tree of Life with stories of Christ. The second is Giotto's fresco of a shepherd's head, which reminds us that it was he who restored the veracity of the profile portrait, a technique abandoned for centuries. His idea of perspective boxes is then very clear in the lobed panels by Agnolo Daddi, his pupil for 24 years, for the Sacristy of Santa Croce. In the last room are the works of Orcagna that open up to the International Gothic style.

PRIMO PIANO

In the succession of rooms and small halls you can admire some of the most beautiful, and often complete with frames, altarpieces from the late 14th and early 15th centuries, including the Annunciation by Giovanni del Biondo, the Enthroned Madonna by Lorenzo Monaco and the Humility (so called because it is seated on the ground) by Mariotto di Nardo.

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