The new year at the Galleria dell’Accademia begins with a showcase of the museum’s newest acquisitions. The temporary exhibition, fittingly named New Acquisitions 2016 – 2018 and running until May 5, 2019, is dedicated to the most recent pieces to join the Accademia’s collection over the last few years.
Though the exhibition is small, counting just eight pieces, it is nonetheless highly important for showcasing the many ways artworks come to be in a museum’s collection. Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, explained that the show “presents artworks that have been purchased, restored, saved from definite dispersion and given back to the State’s patrimony. The fragments of some artworks entered the museum’s collection removed from their context, but thanks to their museumization, we are able to guarantee their conservation, even if we can unfortunately not find all their original parts.”
The works on display include four fragments that together comprise the two side panels of an altarpiece by Mariotto di Nardo, which were purchased by the museum from two different antiquarians. It was by sheer coincidence that, soon after the museum acquired two early 15th-century panels, two semi-lunettes were discovered in Florence that were determined to be the upper parts of the panels. The Accademia decided to purchase the two pinnacles as well, spending a total of 470,000 euro for the four fragments, in order to bring the pieces back together for the first time since the artwork was dismantled in the 19th century.
Four of the paintings on display, by Mariotto di Nardo, the Maestro del 1419, the Maestro del 1416 and Bicci di Lorenzo, were given to the Accademia by the Certosa di Firenze, while the small bust of Giovan Battista Niccolini by Lorenzo Bartolini, which disappeared for more than 150 years before it was rediscovered on the antiques market, was generously donated by the Associazione Amici della Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze. Lastly, two early 15th-century masterpieces by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini and the Maestro della Cappella Bracciolini were given to the Accademia following their confiscation by the Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, who tracked down the paintings in Switzerland, where they were taken illegally sometime after 2003.
The exhibition can be visited in the Accademia’s new space for temporary exhibitions, which is open to visitors at no extra cost.