Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 7, 2020

An Uffizzi visit

The Uffizzi Gallery or Galleria degli Uffizzi is Florence’s famous art museum right in the heart of the city, beside the magnificent Piazza della Signoria and overlooking the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio.

The museum holds a large collection of priceless art, much of it from the Italian Renaissance. It is the most visited museum in Italy and one of the most popular in the world.

I would not even try to get in the busy seasons, but right now in winter and with the corona virus affecting tourism I was able to walk in with no wait at all.

The name means “offices” and the building was begun in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo 1 de’ Medici to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates. It was completed in 1581. The top floor was made into a gallery for the family and their guests.

The gallery has been open to visitors by request since the 16th century and in 1765 it was officially open to the public…amazing!

I walked up the wide staircases to the top floor and was immediately entranced by the long corridor with exquisitely decorated ceilings. I am always tempted to rush home and paint all of my ceilings…if only I could paint!

 

The art is presented in individual rooms, one leading on to the next and occasionally taking you back to the corridor. There are some especially beautiful rooms.


The views of the rooftops of Florence from the windows are excellent.


Best of all is the view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno, even on a rainy day.

Of course the art is the main reason to visit the Uffizzi…there is much to see. Here is a tiny selection.

Expect to see the liberal use of gold.


This panel was painted for the altar of St Ansanus in Siena cathedral in 1333.

This one dates from 1414, commissioned for a monastery in Florence.


This altar piece is Gentile da Fabriano’s masterpiece created in 1423 for the Strozzi family chapel in the church of Santa Trinita.


These 2 portraits are particularly famous. They are the Duke and Duchess of Urbino painted by Piero della Francesca around 1472.


On the back of the panels the ducal couple is borne in triumph by Christian Virtues.

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus commands attention. It was painted in 1485.

These beauties were in the same room.

I liked this one for the vibrant colour.

…and this for the monster, Piero di Lorenzo illustrating the legend of Perseus in 1510 – 15.

This because I liked his face.

This Venus by Lorenzo di Credi in 1490 looks quite masculine. I wonder if the artist had ever seen a naked female.

An unusual monochrome from 1500 by Luca Signorelli, possibly a part of a bedstead in a nuptial bedchamber…sweet dreams.


One of Raphael’s best loved works, Madonna of the Goldfinch, painted in 1505.

I liked “Portia” painted by FRA Bartolommeo in 1495. Unfortunately she was about to kill herself by eating the hot coals at her feet.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation from 1472 – 5 is set in the garden of an elegant Renaissance palazzo. Archangel Gabriel’s robust wings owe a debt to Leonardo’s study of bird flight.

Michelangelo was commissioned by the merchant Agnolo Doni probably to mark his daughter’s birth in 1507.

Leonardo da Vinci never finished his large altarpiece Adoration of the Maji…1481 – 2. Some figures are barely sketched.

This quietly elegant, if somewhat dour, couple was painted in 1503 – 6. Elisabetta Gonzaga, wife of Guidubaldodo Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was renowned for her humanist learning. The jewel on her forehead in the shape of a scorpion may allude to her interest in astrology.

Giuseppe Maria Crespi painted “Scullery Maid” in 1720 – 5. He rejected academic precepts in favour of a more direct interpretation of reality.

There are dozens of stunning sculptures lining the corridors.

 


“The torment of Marsyas” was one of the first to enter the Medici family’s collections. The body, carved in Pavonazzetto marble, is classical but the head was carved by Mino da Fiesole(1429-84), who added the sculpture’s missing parts.

The statue shows the Satyr Marsyas  just before he was flayed alive for losing a musical contest with Apollo. He looks quite cheerful. I have no idea why.

“Nereid on a sea-horse “ is Nereid Galatea, lover of Cyclops Polyphemus. It was taken to the Villa Medici in Rome in 1731 and may be attributed to a Roman workshop.

This lovely lady, the Virgin Annunciate, is by Domenico di Nicoli and dated 1425 – 35. There is a similar wooden statue in the San Frediano church in Lucca. I must take another look to see If they are by the same artist.

Hermaphrodite, Roman art from the 1st century BC, has its own room. The character comes from Greek mythology and was the child of Hermes and Aphrodite. The youth is lying on a lion pelt placed over a rocky surface. Half man and half woman, the bisexuality of Hermaphrodite is based on its union with the nymph Salmacis, who asked the gods to keep both their bodies in one in return for eternal love.

The Uffizzi is a must if you have an interest in Renaissance art. It is possible, and a good idea, to book online in advance to avoid the usual long lines to buy tickets.
I have been a couple of times in winter and have not had to queue, but for most of the year it can take hours to get to the ticket office. There are better things to do in Florence than wait to get into an art gallery, even one as remarkable as this one…be prepared.

 


Responses

  1. Thanks for the memory of many happy hours wandering the Uffizzi.

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    • I think it needs multiple visits. There is too much to take in at once.

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  2. How times have changed, the first time I visited the Uffizi some 22 years ago you were not allowed to take photos – I snuck one of the Botticelli & felt very wicked !!!

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    • I did check before I took photos. Some galleries allow them and others not.

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  3. What an extraordinary place – such very beautiful art work

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  4. I love that place! I notice different things each time I go.

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  5. Great memories of my visit. I also loved the view from the windows.

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  6. A wonderful visit. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Beautiful Debra. I haven’t been to Florence in decades but remember how much I loved it. How are things in Italy? We only hear what we hear in the news. Has there been much impact in your part? I know tourism is quite down but is it business as usual? Hope you are well!

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    • It was business as usual in our area until last night when the prime minister announced that all of Italy is in lock down. I am fine at Casa Debbio. I suspected things might get worse so I went down the mountain last night and stocked up on a few things.
      This is new territory. We will see what happens.

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      • Thanks Debra for getting back to me. I have read a lot of scary stories coming from Northern Italy and it makes me feel sad. There has been so much panic here as all the toliet paper and supplies are being sold out. Yes very new territory. Wish I felt even an ounce of confidence in our leadership.

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  8. Yes, thank you Debra for your time in firstly taking the photos and then your explanations. First time I’ve actually seen the floor! Usually too many people milling around.
    So, thank you again.

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    • I am lucky I went last week. All of Italy is now in lock down, so I get to stay at home for a while. Luckily I am at Casa Debbio and all is good.

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