The Highlights of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

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In this post you will find the 8 unmissable paintings of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, or at least the ones that I like the most.

Gallerie dell’Accademia highlights

Giovanni Bellini, Pala di San Giobbe (Saint Job Altarpiece), 1487. You can see, sitting on a throne, Mary with the child. On their left are St. Francis, John the Baptist and Job. On their right are St. Dominic, Sebastian and Louis of Toulouse. Below them are three wonderful musician angels. The most extraordinary parts of this painting are the vault (virtual extension of the real space of the San Giobbe church, for which it was painted, like a trompe l’oeil) and the golden mosaic, in which you can read these Latin words: Ave virginei flos intemerate pudoris (Hail blameless flower of virginal modesty).

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that someone isn’t paying attention, absorbed by his book. How come? The Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas thought that Mary was not totally preserved from the original sin. That’s why the painter depicted Saint Dominic reading, as if he was doing researches on the subject. Actually Thomas Aquinas was born after the death of St. Dominic, who therefore had nothing to do with this theory.

Bellini, Saint Job Altarpiece, Gallerie dell'Accademia
Bellini, Saint Job Altarpiece

Giovanni Bellini, Sacra Conversazione (Holy Conversation), 1490. I especially like the light spreading on faces, jewels and garments and the sweet intimacy of the scene.

Bellini, Holy Conversation
Bellini, Holy Conversation

Giorgione

Giorgione, Vecchia (Old Woman), 1506. They say that Michelangelo saw this work and held it in mind while painting the Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel. The woman looks at the viewer with an expression of sorrow, holding a scroll with these Italian words: Col tempo (With time). Quite impressive.

Giorgione, Old Woman
Giorgione, Old Woman

A bizarre dinner

Paolo Veronese, Cena a Casa di Levi (Feast in the House of Levi), 1575-76. The painting was commissioned by Dominicans of the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Venice. The painting is full of details, funny to notice, and it is huge. It occupies an entire wall at the Gallerie dell’Accademia!

Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, Gallerie dell'Accademia
Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, Gallerie dell’Accademia

The chosen subject had to be the Last Supper of Christ but Veronese’s interpretation was too irreverent for them (the location is too sumptuous, there are all sort of people participating and not paying attention to the holy scene, there are even animals, children playing, a jester and a man who cleans his teeth with a fork. You can see him below).

Feast in the House of Levi (detail)
Feast in the House of Levi (detail)

Veronese was therefore investigated by the Holy Inquisition. They requested him to make some changes to the painting so… he changed the title!

The last Titian

Titian, Pietà (Piety), 1575-76. This is the last painting by Titian. He painted it for his own burial in St. Mary of the Friars but he died before it was finished. Palma the Younger, his favourite apprentice, completed it. There’s a Latin inscription in the lower part: Quod Titianus inchoatum reliquit Palma reverenter absolvit Deoque dicavit opus (The work that Titian left unfinished, Palma reverently accomplished and dedicated to God). In the centre is Mary holding Christ. On their left is the Magdalene, on the right Nicodemus, Jesus’ disciple (probably Titian’s self-portrait). On the sides there are two statues, Moses and the Sibyl Ellespontica (who predicted the death of Christ).

Titian, Pietà, Gallerie dell'Accademia
Titian, Pietà

Carpaccio

Carpaccio, Ciclo di Sant’Orsola (The Legend of Saint Ursula), 1490 – 1495. This is a wonderful ensemble of 9 large wall-paintings on canvas commissioned by the Loredan family. In these works you can admire architecture, nature, portraits of very different characters, details of military-, court- and everyday-life. Below you can see a detail of one of the paintings displayed at the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

Carpaccio, The Legend of Saint Ursula
Carpaccio, The Legend of Saint Ursula

The Tempest

Giorgione, La Tempesta (The Tempest), 1505-1508. This is a little gem. While I was admiring it, many people around me didn’t pay attention to it, passing by distractedly, maybe because it is quite small. But to me is a true masterpiece. Some academics think that this is the first landscape of Western art history (excluding drawings or watercolours). It depicts a soldier and a gypsy breastfeeding, isolated in a lush landscape. In the background there’s a city, threatened by a storm. This was Lord Byron’s favourite painting because of its ambiguity.

Its meaning is in fact still a mystery, and it is one of the motives I love it. I also like it because, according to a theory, the city in the background is my city, Padua. I’m sorry for the crooked photo. Unfortunately there was a reflection of lightand I wasn’t able to take the photo directly in front of the painting.

Giorgione, The Tempest, Gallerie dell'Accademia
Giorgione, The Tempest

Titian, Presentazione della Vergine al tempio (Presentation of the Virgin Mary), 1534-38. This is a huge oil painting (335 x 775 cm) in its original location. Everything is wonderful: architecture, characters, garments, light and landscape.

Titian, Presentation of the Virgin Mary
Titian, Presentation of the Virgin Mary

I hope I could be helpful!

Gallerie dell’Accademia
www.gallerieaccademia.org
Campo della Carità, 1050 – Dorsoduro, Venice

Museum Ticket
Full Price 9 €
Reduced 6 €

(You better check in the official website because the rates change if there’s a temporary exhibition)

Museum Opening hours
Monday 8.15 – 2 pm
From Tuesday to Sunday 8.15 – 7.15 pm
The ticket office closes 45 minutes before
Closed on Monday afternoon, December 25th and January 1st

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