The Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice is a museum mainly focused on Venetian art before the 19th century; yet, it holds notable works also by non-Venetian artists, such as the famous Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.
Not to be confused with the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, the museum is housed in a former monastery complex, whose origins date back to the 12th century, located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood and overlooking the Grand Canal.
The monumental complex comprises the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Carità, the Church of Santa Maria della Carità, and the Canonici Lateranensi monastery, the latter designed by Andrea Palladio in the second half of the 16th century.
The museum was originally founded in 1750, at the time accommodated in a building near St. Mark’s square. In 1807, it was moved to its current home and provided by Napoleon Bonaparte with a large collection of paintings and sculptures, mostly plundered from churches and religious buildings after the conquer of Venice by the French Revolutionary troops in 1797. The collection was further enlarged under the reign of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria.
Primarily focused on Italian Renaissance art, the permanent collection of the Accademia includes a number of masterpieces by artists such as Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese, Alessandro Longhi, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Bellini, Giambattista Tiepolo, and Canaletto; as well as the already mentioned Vitruvian man by Leonardo and the famous Tempest by Giorgione.
Due to conservation reasons, Da Vinci’s work is not permanently on view and is exhibited only on special occasions.
The Gallerie dell’Accademia museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and organizes guided tours and educational programs for children and schools. The building complex of the museum also includes a bookshop.
Leonardo da Vinci, the Vitruvian man, ca, 1490, pen and ink with wash over metalpoint
on paper; image courtesy of Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Giorgione (Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco), The Tempest, ca. 1508, oil on canvas; image courtesy of Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Cover image: the main entrance of the Gallerie dell’Accademia on the Campo della Carità square; photo © Inexhibit
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