Academy of Art in Florence
Florentine Fine Arts School, Funded by Medici Family.

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David by Michelangelo.
One of the great works of
Italian Renaissance sculpture.

For a discussion of the types,
values, and significance of the
visual arts, see: Definition of Art.

For the top institutes,
see: Best Art Schools.

Academy of Art, Florence
Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno


Founded in 1561, the Florentine Academy of the Art of Design, or Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno was the first official school of drawing in Europe to promote what is now called Academic Art. It enjoyed the support and patronage of the Medici Family, as well as several artists from the Mannerist movement, including Giorgio Vasari, Bartolommeo Ammannati and Agnolo Bronzino. The Academy's aim was to elevate the standards, status and working conditions of painters and sculptors within the city of Florence and surrounding areas. Painting was not on the curriculum only drawing, in particular figure drawing.

In due course, several other art schools opened in Florence, until, in 1783 Pietro Leopoldo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany ordered that all drawing academies should be consolidated into one artistic institution under the direction of the Academy. This was duly done and the enlarged academy was retitled Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze - Academy of Fine Arts, Florence. In addition, a collection of Old Master paintings housed in a special gallery was added to facilitate the studies of art students. Among the extra facilities established was Opificio delle Pietre Dure - a school of art conservation and restoration.

Detail From 'The Trinity' (1425)
by Tommaso Masaccio. One of
the greatest Renaissance paintings.

For a list of the Top 10 painters/
sculptors: Best Artists of All Time.
For the Top 300 oils, watercolours
see: Greatest Paintings Ever.
For the Top 100 works of sculpture
see: Greatest Sculptures Ever.

For the chronology and dates
of key events in the evolution
of visual arts around the world
see: History of Art Timeline.

Genre Controversy

Like the art academy in Rome, the Accademia di San Luca, the Florentine Academy promoted academic art by observing the hierarchy of the genres, in keeping with the artistic principles of the high renaissance. This ranked paintings in the following order of importance: first, history painting, then portraits, genre-painting, landscape and still life.

Other European academies, like the French Académie des Beaux-Arts and (to a lesser extent) the Royal Academy of Arts London, as well as the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Royal Ulster Academy, operated along the same lines, and thus followed the same ranking system. Not unnaturally, this led to dissatisfaction among many famous artists who painted landscapes and still lifes.

Modern Art Colleges in Florence
For details of 21st century courses in this beautiful Renaissance city, see: Best Art Schools in Florence.

The Accademia Art Collection

Among the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze's collection, housed in its gallery, are a magnificent assembly of Early and High Renaissance painting by Sandro Botticelli, Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio (one of Michelangelo's teachers), and Andrea del Sarto - the last significant Florentine painter before the advent of Mannerism. In addition, it houses the original plaster for 'The Rape of the Sabine Women' (1583) - the Mannerist bronze sculpture by Giambologna, also known as Giovanni da Bologna, plus a number of Florentine Gothic-style canvases and Orthodox icons from Russia.

Michelangelo Collection

The highlight of the gallery is a mini-collection of works by Michelangelo. It includes his sculpture 'David' (1504) - initially sent to the Academy for restoration - a statue of Saint Matthew, and several pieces of sculpture designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

• For other art movements and periods, see: History of Art.
• For styles of painting and sculpture, see: Homepage.

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