Since Leonardo’s time, one of the world’s best and oldest art galleries, the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, has held the world’s treasures. Gioggio Vasari, painter-architect and author of Lives of the Artists, built it in 1581. The same care that went into that masterwork of art writing went into the museum’s curation, and has continued to do so ever since. Masterpieces by painters such as Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio were among the magnificent collections.
The gallery, which was opened to the public in 1765, is currently undergoing renovations that will undoubtedly improve its reputation. The majority of its highlights have been in the same city since they were constructed, and nearly all are important in the history of art. It’s a work of art in and of itself. If you’re visiting the Birthplace of the Renaissance, this is a must-see.
The Nuovi Uffizi project began in 2007, with the intention of more than tripling the exhibition area of the Uffizi. In 2011, new galleries showing Dutch, Flemish, French, and Spanish painters were presented, and the following year, a set of rooms highlighting the works of 16th-century Tuscan artists was dedicated.
The Gallery takes up the whole first and second levels of the massive structure. The passageways are lined with antique Roman reproductions of missing Greek statues. It boasts interesting paintings in its hallways and a view of the Arno River. There’s even a café patio with views of the Florence skyline.
Lets look at specific areas of the gallery.
Gallery Entrance Staircases | Uffizi
The Gallery on the palace’s last floor is accessible through a magnificent staircase (as well as the rather old but functional lifts) separated into two sections with quite contrasting architectural styles. Vasari constructed the first flight up to the piano nobile in Florentine Renaissance style, with a liberal use of ‘pietra serena’ sandstone for the numerous framings on the white lime plaster. The second set of steps leads to the Gallery’s level, which is accessed by an elliptical entryway. This exquisite neoclassical staircase and entry hall in pastel green tones (Lorraine green) are reminiscent of the bright modern interiors of European capital towns like Vienna or Saint Petersburg.
The Uffizi Palace
The Uffizi Galleries are an excellent example of sixteenth-century Italian architecture. The palace’s purpose is to put all of the administrative agencies’ city magistrates, or “uffici” (offices), or “uffizi,” as they were known earlier, under one roof. It is marked by modern lines and the precise stereometry of monolithic blocks, with the two parallel “prongs” of the eastern and western wings overlaid over the previous fragmented and discontinuous architecture.
The structure is composed of a series of modules, each with three visible stories on the facade: the portico (arched colonnade), the piano nobile (main floor), and the loggia (covered gallery), and is divided vertically into three parts that correspond to the three bays between the portico and loggia columns.
The architect’s originality and modern design can be observed in the piano nobile’s chambers, where there is no link between the interiors and the exterior facade: the internal rooms are varied sizes, disregarding the regularity of the windows, which are instead organised according to the facades. Because of the presence of continuous barrel vaults, the rooms may be positioned above the dividing walls as needed. Iron bar supports, which Vasari used within the walls, are another feature of a structural, and hence not visible, nature.
The Gallery Corridors | Uffizi
The famed East, South, and West corridors on the top level of the Uffizi Galleries. The views from the vast corridor windows, which look out over the city’s landmarks such as Santa Maria del Fiore, Orsanmichele, and Palazzo Vecchio on one side and the river, Ponte Vecchio, and verdant hillsides on the other, are another attraction of the Uffizi Galleries. The ceilings of the corridors are covered with frescoes, the earliest of which was painted in the first (East) corridor in 1581 (the date can be seen on one of the bays of the ceiling), and was followed by the second and third corridors during the next two centuries.
The Tribune was built between 1581 and 1583 by architect Bernardo Buontalenti “to preserve the Grand Duke’s gems and decorations,” Francesco I de’ Medici. According to the museum idea of the time, the Tribune displayed not just works of art such as sculptures and paintings, but also rare natural goods such as valuable stones.
The edifice is octagonal because the number eight, according to Christian belief, brings one closer to Heaven. Furthermore, octagonal layouts were used in the construction of key buildings such as baptisteries and basilicas in ancient times. The dome, which represents the Vault of Heaven, features an exterior lantern with a weathervane, the motions of which are interior replicated on a painted wind rise. The lantern also acts as a sundial: at both equinoxes and solstices the Sun passing through a hole exposes the celestial mechanics also to “those who are untrained with planets and the motion of heavenly bodies”.
Jacopo Ligozzi painted flora and animals throughout the room’s border at the base of the walls. 130 square metres of ceiling were then coated in layers of gold beneath the varnish. The beautiful crimson velvets with gold fringes on the walls suggested fire. The tall lantern open to the breezes represented air. The overall effect is that of a treasure trove, which takes the visitor by surprise and nearly astounds him.
Primitivi Rooms | Uffizi
These are the rooms that house the most famous antique Florentine and Tuscan paintings, dating back to the 13th century. The interiors are white with clean-cut, basic lines, free of ornamentation and decorations, but not without a minimum of traditional elements, such Tuscan cotto on the flooring and pietra serena stone.
The Niobe Room represents neoclassical architecture. The fortunate discovery revealed thirteen sculptures, the most of which are still in pristine condition. The Niobe Room, a huge room on the second floor of the Uffizi, gets its name from a group of antique statues. It is adorned with exquisite golden stuccos and a coffered ceiling covered in gold leaves.
The chamber has a sculptural group illustrating the tale of Niobe as told by Latin poet Ovid in his “Metamorphoses.” It is one of the most intriguing rooms in the Gallery.
Art Works and Sculptures | Uffizi
‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli
‘Laocoön and his Sons’ by Baccio Bandinelli
‘Medusa’ by Caravaggio
‘Doni Tondo’ by Michelangelo
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