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10 Best Paintings at the Accademia Gallery

A must on your trip to Florence is to visit the Galleria dell'Accademia and see Michelangelo's 'David'. Want to know what other works you will see during your visit? Join me!

María Cano

María Cano

8 min read

10 Best Paintings at the Accademia Gallery

Academy Gallery | ©Brian Dooley

The Accademia Gallery is a must-see of your trip to Florence. In this museum you will find the 'David', the quintessential work of Michelangelo, but you can also see other sculptures by authors such as Lorenzo Bartolini, Luis Pampaloni or John of Bologna, as well as paintings by great artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Alessandro Allori, Bernardo Daddi, Juan del Ponte, Jacopo Cambi, Paolo Ucello and Pontormo. Here is a list of all the must-sees you should see during your visit.

Also, if you want additional information about the museum, read the post tickets to the Galleria dell'Accademia. Also, you can learn about other plans in the capital of Tuscany in the article what to see and do in Florence.

1. Michelangelo's 'David

David, by Michelangelo| ©Elias Rovielo
David, by Michelangelo| ©Elias Rovielo

The Galleria dell'Accademia is home to the most famous statue in the world: Michelangelo's David. An extraordinary large-scale sculpture created in the early sixteenth century that reflects the great knowledge of human anatomy and the male body that the Renaissance artist had. Made of white marble, this statue represents the biblical hero before the battle and transmits certain sensations such as security and concentration. In addition, various details are perfectly defined, such as the veins on the back of the hands or the flexion of the muscles in the right leg.

The large dimensions of some of the parts of Michelangelo's work have been interpreted because the statue was originally intended to be placed on the roof line of the cathedral and, in this way, it was the only way it would be visible from the ground.

Of particular note is the large size of the head and the imposing right hand. This statue was located in the Piazza della Signoria until 1873, when it was moved to the Accademia Gallery to protect it from external conditions.

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2. Michelangelo's 'The Slaves

The Slaves, by Michelangelo| ©Tom
The Slaves, by Michelangelo| ©Tom

In the corridor leading to the David, there are four imposing statues sculpted by Michelangelo between 1519 and 1534, the Prisoners or Slaves. These four nude male figures (the Young Slave, the Awakening Slave, the Bearded Slave and the Atlantean Slave) in which, once again, Michelangelo showed his extensive knowledge of human anatomy in the definition of muscles and other features, were initiated by a very specific project, the tomb of Pope Julius II, which eventually did not see the light.

The Prisoners or Slaves were not finished by the great artist and, after his death, his nephew donated them to the Grand Duke Cosimo I Medici. They were later placed in the corners of the Grotta Grande in the Boboli Gardens, where they remained until the first decade of the 20th century, when they were moved to the Accademia.

3. The Rape of the Sabine Women', by John of Bologna

The Rape of the Sabine Women, by John of Bologna| ©Javier Valero Iglesias
The Rape of the Sabine Women, by John of Bologna| ©Javier Valero Iglesias

Located in the center of the Sala del Coloso is the 'Rapture of the Sabine Women' by Juan de Bolonia, dating from 1579 and 1580. This sculpture of 410 cm. high represents three naked characters: a young man who lifts a woman who tries to fight to escape and on the legs of the young man stands a man with despairing features. In fact, it is also known under the name of The Three Ages of Man. The figures are united both by their gazes and by their bodies.

4. Venus and Cupid', by Jacopo da Pontormo

Venus and Cupid, by Jacopo da Pontormo| ©Mongolo1984
Venus and Cupid, by Jacopo da Pontormo| ©Mongolo1984

Based on Michelangelo's drawings, 'Venus and Cupid' is a painting by Jacopo Carucci, also known as Jacopo da Pontormo, dating from 1533. The Mannerist painter and portrait painter shows in the painting the contrast between earthly love, represented by the young Cupid, and spiritual love, reflected by the goddess Venus. Made in oil on panel, it has dimensions of 128 cm. by 194 cm.

5. Madonna and Child, St. John and the two angels', by Sandro Botticelli

Madonna and Child, St. John and the two angels, by Sandro Botticelli| ©raffaele pagani
Madonna and Child, St. John and the two angels, by Sandro Botticelli| ©raffaele pagani

In this work by Sandro Botticelli, dating from 1468, appears the Virgin and Child with two angels and St. John the Baptist. The use of very vivid colors stands out. Present in the Galleria dell'Accademia since 1919, it was previously located in the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. We do not know who commissioned it or its original location. Small format, 98 x 97 cm, it has been restored on a couple of occasions since the 20th century, specifically in 1979 and 2011.

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6. The Tree of Life', by Pacino di Buonaguida

The Tree of Life, by Pacino di Buonaguida| ©Valéry Hugotte
The Tree of Life, by Pacino di Buonaguida| ©Valéry Hugotte

This painting, measuring 248 by 170 cm, by Pacino di Buonaguida, is based on the Book of Genesis. In the work, which dates from the early fourteenth century, Christ crucified is depicted as a tree with several branches extending from his body. And from each branch of the tree hang a kind of medals decorated with certain biblical events.

7. Michelangelo's 'St. Matthew

Saint Matthew, by Michelangelo| ©Philip Wood Photography
Saint Matthew, by Michelangelo| ©Philip Wood Photography

The statue of St. Matthew, 271 cm, was commissioned by Michelangelo to sculpt the twelve apostles, in order to place it in the Cathedral of Florence. The commission did not come to fruition and the only statue that the artist began to sculpt was that of St. Matthew, although it is thought that he continued to work on this statue later. The inscription on the base reads that this statue was moved in 1831 from the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo in Florence to the Academy of Fine Arts. And later, in 1909, to the Galleria dell'Accademia.

8. Painted Cross with the Virgin and St. John', by Bernardo Daddi

Painted cross with the Virgin and St. John| ©Javier Valero Iglesias
Painted cross with the Virgin and St. John| ©Javier Valero Iglesias

A pupil of Giotto, Bernardo Daddi was an acclaimed and brilliant painter and the Cross painted with the Madonna and St. John is one of his most important works. It was painted between 1340 and 1345 for the Monastery of San Donato, but later the work was transferred to the Uffizi Gallery in the second half of the nineteenth century and in 1919 it reached the Galleria dell'Accademia. Of this work highlights the crown of Christ, made of gilded plaster.

9. Museum of Musical Instruments

Museum of Musical Instruments| ©AD
Museum of Musical Instruments| ©AD

The Accademia Gallery has a collection of almost fifty antique musical instruments, including pieces by Antonio Stradivari and Bartolomeo Cristofori. Known under the name of the Museum of Musical Instruments, they come from the private collections of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and the Medici family. In addition, the Gallery has available in this room a multimedia system that will allow you to immerse yourself in an immersive experience.

10. Bartolini Gipsotheca

At the Gipsoteca Bartolini| ©DrNogo's Collection
At the Gipsoteca Bartolini| ©DrNogo's Collection

The Gipsoteca Bartolini reflects the origins of the museum as a place of learning and is a reflection of the life of the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, who was a teacher at the institution since 1839. The room houses a large collection of sculptures made in plaster by both Bartolini and Pampaloni, one of his disciples.

Some of Bartolini's sculptures that you can see in the Accademia Gallery are Ammostatore, Arnina, Emma and Julia Campbell, Figura allegorica per il monumento Demidov, Medal for the monument to Gerolamo Segato, Monument to Elisa Baciocchi or Ninfa dello Scorpione, among others.

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The Accademia Gallery in Florence room by room

Visiting the Prisoners Gallery| ©Dimitris Kamaras
Visiting the Prisoners Gallery| ©Dimitris Kamaras

The Accademia Gallery has two floors that are divided into a series of rooms:

  • Hall of the Colossus: It houses 15th century paintings by artists such as Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi or Perugino.
  • Gallery of the Prisoners: The four prisoners stand out, as well as relevant paintings of the sixteenth century by artists such as Andrea del Sarto, Granacci, Pontormo, Fra' Bartolomeo or Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
  • The Tribune: It is the busiest area of the museum and houses Michelangelo's David.
  • Gipsoteca: Room dedicated to Florentine works of sculpture from neoclassicism to romanticism. It is where a large collection of sculptures in plaster by Bartolini and Pampaloni are located.
  • Sala di Pacino, Sala di Giotto e Giotteschi and Sala degli Orcagna: These three rooms house paintings from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
  • Museum of Musical Instruments.
  • Rooms of Lorenzo Monaco and the late Gothic: With paintings of the fifteenth century.

Recommendations to see the best works of the Galleria dell'Accademia without the crowds

Galleria dell'Accademia entrance| ©Mongolo1984
Galleria dell'Accademia entrance| ©Mongolo1984

On your visit to the Accademia Gallery keep in mind the following tips to make your visit as pleasant as possible:

  • Buy your ticket in advance: The Accademia Gallery is one of the most visited museums in Florence. Therefore, I recommend that you book your ticket in advance to avoid wasting time at the ticket office. In addition, it is also possible to buy a ticket with priority access. The cheapest tickets for the Accademia are priced from about 25 euros on Hellotickets.
  • Check the map: Before starting your visit to the Accademia Gallery it is advisable to check the map of the museum and get an idea of where each room is and what you can see in each of them.
  • Go early in the morning: The Accademia Gallery is one of the most visited museums in Florence. Therefore, I recommend that you go during the week and early in the morning or late afternoon so you do not cross with so many tourists and you can make the visit more calmly.
  • The Accademia Gallery has no checkroom, so bags, suitcases and large backpacks are not allowed.
  • Mineral water bottles are allowed, as long as they do not exceed half a liter capacity.
  • Upon entering you will have to go through a security check, so allow for that margin in the total time of the visit.
  • Take as much time as you need to see the different works.

And after exploring the Accademia Gallery, keep in mind that you can visit the Uffizi Gallery or the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. I advise you to check which are the best museums in Florence and plan a trip of 10.