di Belle Arti ("Academy of Fine Arts") is an art academy in Florence
and it is now the operative branch of the still existing Accademia delle Arti del Disegno ("Academy of the Arts of Drawing") that was the first academy of drawing in Europe
The extraordinary contribution of academics including Michelangelo Buonarroti, Francesco da Sangallo, Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Giambologna, increased the prestige of this institution.
The Gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti has housed the original David by Michelangelo since 1873. The sculpture was allegedly brought to the Accademia for reasons of conservation, although other factors were involved in its move from its previous outdoor location on Piazza della Signoria
. The original intention was to create a 'Michelangelo museum', with original sculptures and drawings, to celebrate the fourth centenary of the artist's birth. Today the gallery's small collection of Michelangelo's work includes his four unfinished Prisoners, intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, and a statue of Saint Matthew, also unfinished. In 1939 these were joined by a Pietà discovered in the Barberini chapel in Palestrina, though experts now consider its attribution to Michelangelo to be dubious. The "David" in the Accademia is the original. There is a replica in the Firenze town square and some visitors leave thinking they have seen the real thing when they have only seen the replica.
Among the notable Renaissance works on display are an outstanding collection of 15th and 16th century Florentine paintings by Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Andrea del Sarto and, from the High Renaissance, Giambologna's original plaster for the Rape of the Sabine Women. As well as a number of Florentine Gothic paintings, the gallery houses the idiosyncratic collection of Russian icons assembled by the Grand Dukes of the House of Lorraine, of which Leopoldo was one.