From the 14th to the 19th century
The civic art gallery's first collection was formed in 1829, with the acquisition of works coming from supressed religious orders, leading to the institution of the Gallery of the Academy. During the course of the century, the collection was further enriched thanks to contributions made by citizens, which helped to increase the public patrimony through bequests and deposits. This took place in a vibrant atmosphere of civic competition that aimed to make the public collection more prestigious. The Gallery, which was reorganized by Corrado Ricci, contains more than 300 works, including paintings and sculptures dating back to a chronological period extending from the 14th to the 19th century. An extensive display of small plates from the 14th and 15th centuries, intended mostly for monastic cells, provide evidence of the Town's relationships with the most important centres of production, from Veneto and Padua to Emilia Romagna or, more precisely, Bologna and Ferrara, to Tuscany and Marche. Small mixed-line carpentry plates and small altarpieces from this period are kept here and can be attributed to the Maestro del Coro Scrovegni, Guglielmo Veneziano, Matteo di Giovanni, Lorenzo Monaco, Taddeo di Bartolo and Antonio Vivarini.
Very important in understanding the artistic events that developed in Romagna in the era of transition between the noble courts and papal domination, is a significant collection of works dating back to the period between the end of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth centuries: included in this collection are the paintings of Baldassarre Carrari, Marco Palmezzano, Nicolò Rondinelli, Francesco and Bernardino Zaganelli, along with the protagonists of the “Raffaelism” season in Romagna, Bartolomeo Ramenghi, known as Bagnacavallo, Girolamo Marchesi da Cotignola, Luca Longhi and his son Francesco and daughter Barbara.
From the same period, there are works documenting the continuous relationship with Veneto, even in a period that goes beyond that of Venetian domination. Of the authors, the following can be mentioned: Bartolomeo Montagna, Marco Bello, Luca Antonio Busati, Cima da Conegliano, Pietro degli Ingannati, Francesco Rizzo from Santacroce and his circle and Paris Bordon. Of great importance for the Town's patrimony is the funeral monument of Guidarello Guidarelli, created by Tullio Lombardo in 1525 and made particularly famous by the literature of D'Annunzio, which made it a legend.
A fundamental element in the development of the language of art in Romagna during the Mannerism period, is a painting by Giorgio Vasari, dated 1548, the Compianto su Cristo deposto dalla Croce (Mourning of Christ taken down from the Cross), commissioned by the Monastery of Classe. This was a very fortunate iconographic archetype. The relationships with circles in Ferrara are documented by the valuable works of Dosso Dossi, Bastianino and Bastarolo. The works of Jacopo Ligozzi, Camillo Procaccini and Matteo Ingoli date back to the latter part of the Counter-Reformation Period.
A fundamental work in the iconography of Saint Romualdo is a large painting of Guercino, created for the Abbey of Classe, one of the most important patrons of the city. As well as the Guercino painting, there are others from the workshops of Gennari, Alessandro Tiarini and Cecco Bravo. Dating back to the second half of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century are the works of Carlo Cignani, Marcantonio Franceschini, Giovan Gioseffo Dal Sole, Luigi Crespi and Archangelo Resani.
Some pictorial texts by Andrea and Domenico Barbiani are the few remaining examples of the extremely prolific activity of a workshop that was very important in Ravenna, as a result of its constant presence in the town for nearly five hundred years, from the early 17th century.
During the nineteenth century, there was new momentum in acquisitions, with various forms of deposit, testamentary bequests, donations and purchases, which took place thanks to contributions of paintings from private sources. This period marks the important presence of works by Giambattista Bassi, Antonio Ciseri, Telemaco Signorini, Giuseppe Abbati, Arturo Moradei, Angelo Torchi, Luigi Serra, Ettore Tito and Domenico Miserocchi.