The building which hosts the Uffizi Gallery is one of the master pieces of XVI century architecture. Projected in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari, court architect and painter, by request of the Duce Cosimo I de Medici, this vast and scenographic building, created in only five years, is connected to Palazzo Vecchio via the famous Vasariano corridor, and with Palazzo Pitti, home of the Royal Palace.
The building was originally built for the offices of the aristocracy but it was soon used for art collections. With the death of Vasari and of Cosimo I, the Granduce Francesco I, decided to use the upper floors of the building as a gallery and in 1581 commissioned elegant grotesque fresco decorations in the oriental corridor.
In 1584, the palace had the "Tribuna", built by Bernardo Buontalenti, where the most precious works of art were kept and already open to the public on request in the 600's. The successor of Francesco I, his brother Ferdinand I, enriched the families collection and enlarged the building. During the XVII and XVIII centuries, the fresco decorations of the volts in the western and northern corridors were completed, using Florentine glories as subject matter and the Palace was enriched with a "Vestibolo" (1704), presently used as an exit to the stairs of Buontalenti. In 1835, the external decoration of the palace with the twenty eight famous Florentines was completed.
The collection's history and the successive acquisitions by the Gallery, starting from Francesco I, is strictly connected to the antiquarian interests of the Medici family. In 1737 Anna Maria Luisa de Medici restricted the Uffizi collections to the city of Florence. During the Granducato of Pietro Leopoldo a great rise in the acquisitions took place. Fortunately the requisitions of the French Revolution affected the Gallery very little and during the 800's, also following the uniting of Tuscany to Italy in 1859, the Uffizi acquired state dimensions.
Exhibited in the Gallery are numerous works of Italian and European master pieces. The rooms dedicated to the Sienese paintings include the “Annunciazione” by Simone Martini (1333), “Pala della Beata Umiltà” by Pietro Lorenzetti and the “Presentazione della Vergine al Tempio” painted by his brother Ambrogio. Dedicated to Giotto is another room, with works by Taddeo Gaddi, Andrea Orcagna, the famous “Deposizione dalla Croce” by Giottino, the “Polittico di Ognissanti” by Giovanni da Milano. The international Gothic is represented by the works of Lorenzo Monaco “L'Adorazione dei Magi”(1422) and above of all by the refined and elaborate table of Gentile da Fabriano which depicts the same subject matter and is considered almost the stereo type of taste and desire of the time.
The 400's are still documented by the important table of Masaccio and Masolino, the “Madonna col Bambino e Sant'Anna” which is paired with the "Incoronazione della Vergine" by Beato Angelico and the "Battagla di San Romano" by Paolo Uccello. A lot of space is dedicated to Filippo Lippi and the paintings of the mid 400's: the "Incoronazione della Vergine", painted by the master, and between 1441 and 1447 are some works by the Pollaiolo brothers. The high cultural level lived with Lorenzo il Magnifico, is shown in the works of Botticelli: "Pallade e il Centauro", "Primavera", "Nascita di Venere", "Adorazione dei Magi", "Madonna del Magnificat" and “Madonna della Melagrana” and more paintings from the last part of the artist's life, marked by the restlessness caused by the sermons of Savonarola ("Incoronazione della Vergine" and "Allegoria della Calunnia").
There are many works by the Tuscan mannerism, ("Mosè che difende le figlie di Jetro" by Rosso Fiorentino and "Cena in Emmaus", work of Pontormo) whilst Venetian art from the XV and XVI centuries like "Allegoria sacra" by Giovanni Bellini, "Ritratto di Capitano con scudiero" by Giorgione and works by Tiziano (to whom an entire room is dedicated).
The starting point of the fascinating itinerary which unravels itself along six centuries of Italian painting contains three works of capital importance. They are the "Madonna Rucellai" by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1285), the "Madonna di Santa Trinità" by Cimabue (1280) and the "Madonna di Ognissanti" by Giotto (1310). By confronting these three masterpieces it's possible to grasp the evolution of Italian art from the extreme Byzantine tradition to the modern solutions in plastic and chrome by Giotto.
The great season of Italian art, between the end of the XV and the XVI century is documented by masterpeices such as the works of Leonardo: the "Adorazione dei Magi" (1481),the "Battesimo di Cristo" (1470, attributed to Verrocchio, where the young Leonardo creates the angel to the left and the landscape) and "Annunciazione" (1470-75); by Raffaello, the “Madonna del Cardellino” (1506), “Leone X and two Cardinals” (1512); by Tiziano “La Flora” (1515) and the “Venere di Urbino” (1538) and by Michelangelo “Tondo Doni”(1504).
The paintings from the 600's("Bacco" and the "Sacrificio di Isacco" by Caravaggio, some canvases by Rembrandt “Self portrait” and “Ritratto di Vecchio”) and 700's (Canaletto, Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Guardi) are in the final part of the exhibition.
In the Vasari Corridor there is also an extensive collection of self portraits by artists from the XVI to the XX century.
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