San Marino, 1963. Raphael, Self-portrait. Sc. 550.

Lesotho, 1988. A. Botticelli, Birth of Venus. Sc. 660.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence
General Presentation

     Uffizi, the major public gallery of Italian paintings in Florence, located close to the Piazza della Signoria. The gallery consists of an elegant pair of linked, arcaded buildings dating from 1560-1580, designed by Giorgio Vasari, Court Painter to Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. They were originally intended for use as administrative offices (uffizi) but, their innovative iron structure allowing for large windows, they provided suitable space for the Medici family's art collections. It is those works that form the nucleus of the collection today.

The entry to Uffizi, seen from the stairs of Palazzo Vecchio.

    Though the Uffizi's 1,800 works do not form a large collection, their sheer overall quality, particularly of Italian Renaissance art, makes the gallery one of the most important in the world. The displays of Italian art open with three monumental altarpieces by the 13th-century masters Giotto, Duccio, and Cimabue, and move through the International Gothic with works by Simone Martini and Gentile da Fabriano, before their climax in the rooms devoted to the Early Renaissance. Paintings by Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, and Piero della Francesca are particularly notable, although it is perhaps the four rooms devoted to Sandro Botticelli—in particular his most celebrated works, Primavera and The Birth of Venus—that make the greatest impression.
    The rooms that follow include paintings by the great masters of the Florentine High Renaissance: the unfinished Adoration of the Magi and Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, Pope Leo X by Raphael, and Doni Tondo by Michelangelo. The display of Florentine painting concludes with works by such Mannerist artists as Jacopo da Pontormo, Bronzino, and Rosso Fiorentino.
      The collection also includes some major examples of Venetian art, notably Sacred Allegory by Giovanni Bellini and Venus of Urbino by Titian, as well as works by Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, and Parmagianino.

    The Flemish, Dutch, and German schools are represented by 15th- to 16th-century paintings by Hugo van der Goes, Lucas Cranach, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Sir Anthony van Dyck. The collection ends with 18th-century works by Canaletto, Francesco Guardi, Francisco de Goya, and Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin. In the Corridoio Vasariano, linking the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace, hangs a famous collection of self-portraits that runs from Vasari and Raphael to Rubens, Diego Velázquez, Camille Corot, and Eugène Delacroix. After: Microsoft Encarta 1996.


Created 08/02/2000. Revised: 08/07/00. Copyright © 2000 by Victor Manta, Switzerland. All rights reserved in all countries.

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