museum owes its fame to the extraordinary collection of works by Michelangelo.
Besides a collection of XIII-XVI century Florentine painting, there is
also a collection of plaster casts and another of Russian icons. The gallery
was established in 1784 by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, who wanted to offer
the students at the adjoining Accademia delle Belle Arti fine art works
to use as examples. As a result, only works from the Florentine school
of painting were chosen, in that they were the only ones considered capable
of communicating art.
In 1841, the works then present in the museum were put into chronological
order and in 1873 there arrived the most-widely viewed work in the gallery
- Michelangelo's David.
Michelangelo started work on this statue in 1502, when he was twenty-six,
and finished it two years later in 1504. He created it from an enormous
block of marble which had already been roughly-hewn by two other sculptors,
who abandoned it because they considered the marble unsuitable for sculpture.
It was produced on commission, the request being for a work of religious
significance to go in the cathedral. But the political events of the period
led to its being placed in front of Palazzo Vecchio, where it remained
until it was moved to the Accademia for obvious reasons of conservation.
During the Second World War it was not moved, as many other art works
were, but remained in the Accademia, protected by an encircling shield
in cement and brick.
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden