The most enlightenend prince of the Lorraine family
that ruled over Tuscany for over a century, the Grand
Duke Pietro Leopoldo, united in 1784 all the Florentine
drawing schools into one "Academy".
He also founded a gallery to exhibit paintings with
the aim of facilitating the study of the Academy´s
The seat chosen is the present location of the Museum,
a building that originally housed the "Hospital
of St. Matthew", enlarged in time through the
addition of several adjoining spaces. The consistency
and composition of the collection displayed in this
museum has changed 0ver time due to the addition of
works of art removed from suppressed convents, but
also due to loss of works temporarily given or returned
to other Florentine museums, in particular to the
Uffizi (Bottlicelli´s "Primavera"
was displayed here for many years).
Over time the Gallery has become one of the main museums
in town, also thanks to the acquisition of some extraordinary
masterpieces, such as the "Pièta"
by Giovanni da Milano (14th century); the "Annunciation"
by Lorenzo Monaco (15th century); the splendid frontal
called "Cassone Adimari"showing a
sumptuous marriage procession (c. 1450) and the "Madonna
of the Sea"attributed to Botticelli (1445-1510).
In 1873, when Michelangelo´s David was exhibited for
the first time on a specially arranged tribune. For
protection purposes, the statue was in fact removed
from Piazza Signoria where it had represented for
over four centuries the strengh and dignity of the
In the early years of the 20th century, this statue
was joined by other extraordinary works of art by
the same artist, such as "St. Matthew"and
the four "Prisoners" originally
made for the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome, but placed
in the grotto of the Boboli gardens at the end of
the 15th century, and finally by the "Pietà
di Palestrina" (whose attribution to the
master is still somehow controversial). A capillary
organisation and restoration of some of the rooms
on the upper floor have allowed the museum to recently
integrate the collection with a series of paintings
from the 14th to the 16th centuries and to open a
room displaying the chalk models of famous 19th century
sculptors like Lorenzo Bartolini and Luigi Pampaloni.
St John the Baptist
for the grave monument to Julius
II in Rome
The captives should
have been placed
in the lower part of the monument.