What to see in the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia, Italy

Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia

Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia is one of the most important art museums in Italy. It contains an outstanding collection of Venetian school of painting from the 1300s to the 1700s. Bellini, Giorgione, Carpaccio, Titian, Tiepolo, Hayes, Longi, Tintoretto, and Veronese are the names of the artists whose works are represented in the gallery. The museum also has in its collection Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing “Vitruvian Man”. Although it is rarely exhibited. But it’s not just the works of art that attract the gallery. The complex, which houses the museum, represents an important architectural heritage. The museum consists of several historic buildings:

  • the church of Santa Maria della Carita,
  • its convent, part of which, of the 16th century, belongs to the genius of Palladio
  • and the premises of the Scuola Grande of the same name.

The Gallery has 37 rooms divided into thematic exhibition routes starting from the paintings of the XIV until the XVIII century.

History of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Venice

As in other similar cases in Italy, the main purpose of creating an art gallery in an academic complex dedicated to art, was purely didactic. Thus, the works of local and foreign artists began to be collected in order to inspire young people to choose artistic professions.

In 1750 the Academy of Fine Arts was founded in Fondaco della Farina, not far from St. Mark’s Square, where today the Port Authority is located, with regular classes in painting, sculpture and architecture.

With the arrival of Napoleon and the fall of the Serenissima Republic of Venice (1797), first the terrible pillage of the paintings that found their way mainly to the Louvre Museum in Paris or to the Brera Museum in Milan and then the general reorganisation of the structure, which by decree of 1807 was transferred to the convent and school of Santa Maria della Carità.

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Performing the role of both school and museum, it was soon decided to abandon the idea of a “universal museum” in favor of the history of local painting . It is thanks to this choice that today the Galleria dell’Accademia houses one of the most important collections of the Venetian school of painting in the world.

In 2004 the museum acquired an independent status, separating it from the Academy of Arts.

The most famous masterpieces of the Accademia Gallery

Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese (Verona, 1528 – Venice, 1588), Banquet at the House of Levi, 1573, oil on canvas, 560 x 1309 cm, Venice, Galleria Accademia

Today the museum consists of 37 exhibition halls that house the greatest masterpieces of Western culture, from Giorgione’s famous Tempest to Giovanni Bellini and Titian’s Pieta, from Canova’s sculptures to Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

An extraordinary collection that was enriched over time by important acquisitions such as Andrea Mantegna’s Saint George or works by foreign artists such as Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch.

One of the main and most popular works is undoubtedly Convito in casa Levi (Feast in the House of Levi) by the painter Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese. It is a large canvas over thirteen meters long, originally painted for the refectory of the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in 1573. The scene was supposed to depict the Last Supper, a theme that has traditionally adorned many refectories, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.But it was condemned by the Inquisition and the artist had to answer for it personally. He changed the title of the painting to Convito in casa Levi (Banquet in the House of Levi), but did not abandon the freedom of pictorial expression and the depiction of characters in solemn poses.

Giorgione (Castelfranco Veneto, c. 1478 – Venice, 1510), The Tempest, 1502-1503, tempera and oil on canvas, 83 x 73 cm, Venice, Galleria Accademia.

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Giorgione’s The Tempest is of great historical and artistic significance. Probably painted at the beginning of the 16th century . The mysterious and emblematic scene, set against a natural landscape, depicts a naked woman breastfeeding her child and a reddish guardsman. Lightning pierces the sky, the incredible natural power conveyed through simple veils of color is extraordinary.

Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice, 1518 – Venice, 1594), Saint Mark Freeing a Slave from Torture (also called The Miracle of Saint Mark), 1547-1548, Venice, Academy Gallery

Sixteenth-century Venetian painting is represented by the paintings of Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto . His most famous masterpiece in the gallery is Il Miracolo di San Marco (The Miracle of St. Mark), in which a saint manages to save a slave lying on the ground from unjust martyrdom. The emotionality of the moment, the singularity of the composition, and the vividness of the colors make this painting representative of the entire direction of the Venetian school of painting.

Although Venice is the leading city of “color” and “colorism,” the Gallery of the Academy houses a most valuable collection of drawings, prints, and preparatory sketches by the great artists of the past. The collection of fragile and unusual drawings, which the museum carefully preserves from light and microclimatic damage, includes several sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello Sanzio, Canaletto, Hayes and a very important drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti depicting an episode related to Greek mythology, the fall of Phaeton.

Leonardo da Vinci, Proportions of the Human Body by Vitruvius – “Vitruvian Man” (c. 1490; metal point, pen and ink, watercolor strokes on white paper, 34.4 x 24.5 cm; Venice, Galleria Accademia)

Also in this section is Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic masterpiece Vitruvian Man. in which the Florentine master depicted the ideal proportions of the human body, inscribing a man with outstretched arms in both a circle and a square. This small pen-and-ink drawing on paper dates from about 1490 and has been in the Gallery since 1822, when it was acquired by the artist, poet, and art collector Giuseppe Bossi.

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How to get there, schedules, and ticket prices for the Galleria dell’Accademia

The Galleria dell’Accademia is located along the Grand Canal in front of the Accademia Bridge. It is a 30-40 minute walk from Piazzale Roma (parking) or from the Venezia Santa Lucia train station.

From Piazzale Roma or the railway station

River Tram Line 2, direction Lido, stop Accademia (total 6 stops, duration 20 minutes) River Tram Line 1, direction Lido, stop Accademia (total 11 stops, duration 28 minutes)

From St. Mark’s Square

River streetcar line 2, direction P.le Roma, stop Accademia (3 stops, duration 8 minutes) River streetcar line 1, direction p.le Roma, stop Accademia (3 stops, duration 8 minutes)

Office hours

Monday: 8.15 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closing begins on the first floor at 1.30 p.m.) Tuesday through Sunday: 8.15 a.m. to 7.15 p.m. (closing begins on the first floor at 6.45 p.m.) Ticket sales close Monday at 1 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday at 6:15 p.m. Closed: January 1, December 25 and May 1

Ticket price

The combined ticket price for the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia + Palazzo Grimani is:

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