Galleria del'Accademia

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Ed Hahn on August 26, 2005

We have an early reservation at Accademia. What the reservation allows us to do is stand in the "reservation" line which is not clearly marked and can only be identified by asking people already in the line. The procedure is for the "reservation" people to be admitted about 15 minutes after their scheduled time. If there is room, then people from the "non-reservation" line are admitted.

In 1784, Pietro Leopoldo, the Grand Duke of Lorraine commissioned this museum by decreeing that all drawing schools in Florence were to be united into a single Academy containing a gallery of art works by old masters to help the studies of young artists. When we enter, we first see Giambologna’s original plaster model for the Rape of the Sabines located at the Loggia dei Lanzi. It also contains a number of 16th century works including some by Filippo Lippi.

Next we reach the Galleria dei Prigioni, a corridor containing a series of incomplete sculptures by Michelangelo. The most famous of these, the "Prisoners," is an extremely powerful piece in which the figures appear to be trying to emerge from the stone. Maybe it’s better unfinished.

At the end of the hall stands "David" in a specially designed room, built for it when it was moved here from the Piazza Del Signorina in 1873 after spending over 350 years subjected to the elements. I have never seen a statue that impresses me as much as Michelangelo's "David" does. It was commissioned in 1501; when the 26 year old Michelangelo was paid 400 scudi and given a leftover block of marble that a number of other artists had unsuccessfully tried to work on to create a sculpture to celebrate the glory of Florence.

In December, experts were cleaning the statue and the scaffolding was intrusive Today there is no scaffolding and I sit for over 30 minutes just looking at "David." How did Michelangelo create such a masterpiece at such a young age, especially one that so broke with the past? The statue illustrates the power of the young David as he prepares to battle the mighty Goliath. This is not only the greatest statue of the renaissance; it may be the greatest sculpture of all time.

There is one extremely interesting side exhibit in which you can view the statue in virtual reality from any angle you wish, even from above. The two wings next to "David" contain some very beautiful 16th century paintings including a couple by Botticelli. The far room on the left contains a large collection of plaster casts by 19th century Tuscan artists that palls quickly since they are all copies of other works. There are two rooms of interesting medieval art and religious artifacts including the "Tree of Life" on the way towards the exit. The problem is that all is overwhelmed by the power of "David."

The Accademia closes on Mondays. The entrance fee is steep but worth it. No picture taking.

Galleria dell'Accademia
Via Ricasoli 60
Florence, Italy
055 238 8609

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