As one of the finest galleries in Italy and the world in general, the Uffizi gallery is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces that was established in 1581. Designed by the master architect, Vasari, the Uffizi gallery is a must-see for any visitor to the city which birthed the Italian Renaissance.
I live an hour away from Florence and visit Florence often. One of my favorite things to do in Florence is to visit the Uffizi Gallery. It is always crowded but with advanced planning, you can have a enjoyable experience. I highly recommend taking a guided tour if you are visiting the gallery for the first time.
Important Paintings At The Uffizi Gallery.
The following are some of the must see paintings at the Uffizi Gallery. There are of course hundreds of other important paintings and works of art in the Uffizi Gallery as well.
Created by Sandro Botticelli between the late 1470s and early 1480s, Primavera, meaning ‘spring’, is a masterpiece of Renaissance art that is painted on a large panel and has often been described by critics as one of the most popular paintings in European art. It is believed that the painting was commissioned by the powerful Medici family although this is by no means certain. The painting has been housed in the Uffizi gallery since 1919.
The painting shows a group of figures in a mythological garden and although there is no clear reason as to why these people are meeting in the archaic environment this adds an interesting sense of mystery to the piece. However, critics have traditionally claimed that the painting represents the Neoplatonic ideas that became widespread during the early decades of the Italian Renaissance in Florence.
The concept of spring, the title of the painting, is often seen as an allegory that speaks to the potential that all people have within them. Therefore, the painting could be a tribute to the inner world of perfection, a profoundly Neoplatonic ideal, which was cultivated by the artists and thinkers of the Renaissance period.
Annunciation, Leonardo Da Vinci.
Annunciation means an announcement. As the earliest of Da Vinci’s major artworks, the Annunciation is a priceless oil and tempera painting that was completed between 1472 and 1476 in the famous studios of Andrea del Verrocchio, while Da Vinci was still an apprentice (the painting has many rookie mistakes, modifications and extensions). The painting depicts the Annunciation, a frequent Biblical theme in Renaissance art, which refers to the moment when the Virgin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she would birth Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The painting has been housed in the Uffizi gallery since 1867 and is a fantastic example of Da Vinci’s early mastery of groundbreaking techniques, including the use of atmospheric perspectives and sfumato to create softened outlines which gradually fade into each other. Although some people have criticized the work for its various inaccuracies, the Annunciation by Da Vinci remains one of the best portrayals of this central theme in the Biblical canon.
Birth Of Venus, Botticelli.
One of my favorite paintings in the world! The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic paintings of Western art and portrays the seductive goddess, Venus, shortly after she arrived on the shore following her birth as a fully grown woman. The painting was completed during the 1480s and is thought to have been commissioned by a member of the Medici family.
Paintings that depicted Greek mythological characters or scenes were almost unheard of in Europe prior to the Renaissance which meant that Botticelli and his contemporaries were truly spearheading a concept that would become a central theme of Western artwork over the coming centuries.
Caravaggio is a master of creating art using bright lights and dark shadows. He lead a very violent life and even was accused of committing a murder. Commissioned by Cardinal Del Monte, Bacchus by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, is one of the firebrand painter’s finest works. Completed in 1596, the painting is a delightfully playful portrayal of a youthful Bacchus relaxing in a classical pose while enjoying wine and fruit. Bacchus is the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus and represents agriculture, fertility, wine, revelry and drama.
In Caravaggio’s painting, Bacchus is holding out his glass of wine as if he is inviting the viewer to join him. Interestingly, Caravaggio’s own life was extremely tumultuous and interspersed with drunken revelries and incidents which may ultimately have led to his untimely death at just 38 years old. This gives Carravaggio’s painting of Bacchus a somewhat melancholy feeling with the knowledge of hindsight but it nonetheless remains of the true masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
Venus Of Urbino, Titian.
Titian’s Venus of Urbino, sometimes referred to as the ‘Reclining Venus’, was completed in the 1530s and depicts a nude woman who is traditionally identified as the goddess of love, Venus. The Roman goddess of Venus represents love, beauty and the imperial power of Rome. In Titian’s painting, the figure is based on the Dresden Venus’s pose, by Giorgione, and is set in a sumptuous palace of a wealthy Italian noble.
The portrait is thought by some to depict a courtesan, Zaffetta, while others believe it was commissioned to celebrate the wedding of its first owner, Guidubaldo Della Rovere. Generally, the tradition of painting nude reclining women was primarily a product of Venice, however, during the Renaissance, it became a more widespread trope in Western art.
Madonna With Child With Two Angles, Lippi.
Madonna with Child, painted by Filippo Lippi, was completed between 1450 and 1465 and is one of the few works that the artist completed without the help of his workshop assistants. Although the painting itself is not particularly well known in modern times, it was one of the most influential works of the early Renaissance and influenced many future depictions of Mary by Italian artists, including Botticelli himself.
Filippo Lippi was born in 1406 to a very poor family and later joined a monastery, where he learned to paint. He later fell in love with a nun, had two children and left the church. It is thought that this painting, as well as the majority of his other works, was commissioned by his main patron, the Medici’s.
Madonna Del Granduca, Raphael.
Raphael’s painting, Madonna del Granduca, was completed in 1505, shortly after the artist arrived in Florence. This painting of Mary and Jesus gets its name from Ferdinand III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who owned the work of art.
The painting is clearly inspired by the work of Da Vinci, who was hugely influential in Florence and was studied by all of the contemporary artists of his time. Raphael’s use of the sfumato technique, made popular by Da Vinci, gives the painting an ethereal feeling while the dramatic black background may have influenced future masters such as Caravaggio.
In the painting, Mary has a somewhat melancholy gaze which invites the viewer to consider the innocence and kindness of the baby Christ’s face. Undoubtedly one of Raphael’s best-loved paintings, the Madonna del Granduca is one of the most important works of the Florentine Renaissance.
Adoration Of The Magi, Lippi.
Completed in 1496, the Adoration of the Magi by Filippino Lippi, was commissioned by the Convent of San Donato in Scopeto to replace an earlier painting that Da Vinci left unfinished. However, in 1529 it was bought by the Medici family and donated to the Uffizi collections in 1666. The work is thought to have been inspired by Botticelli’s painting of the same name, and portrays the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus in the manger, shortly after he was born.
Fascinatingly, Lippi included several members of the Medici family in the painting, which may explain why they later purchased it. On the left side of the painting, Pierfrancesco de Medici can be seen kneeling down and holding an astrolabe and behind him, his two sons, Lorenzo and Giovanni, are pictured removing a crown from a young man’s head and holding a goblet.
The Battle Of San Romano, Uccello.
Painted by Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano depicts events that took place in 1432 when the Florentine and Sienese forces were at war. The painting is made of 3 separate panels and is a fantastic example of the linear perspectives that became popular in the early Italian Renaissance. This painting is quite unusual in the sense that it depicts an entirely secular event, as opposed to a Biblical or mythological scene.
Originally commissioned by the Bartolini Salimbeni family between 1435 and 1460, the paintings are currently housed in 3 collections; the central panel in the Uffizi gallery, the left-hand panel in the National Gallery in London and the right-hand panel in the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The 3 panels, from left to right, represent the times of day during the battle, dawn, mid-day and dusk.
The Ognissanti Madonna, Giotto.
The Ognissanti Madonna, or the ‘Madonna Enthroned’, was painted in the late medieval period by Giotto di Bondone and depicts the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child sitting on her lap. The Ognissanti Madonna depicts classical Christian iconography, with the Virgin Mary surrounded by angels and saints against a beautiful golden background which may represent the divine light of heaven.
The spectacular painting is thought to date to 1310 and represents the beginning of the move away from the traditions of Gothic art and the emergence of artistic styles that would define the Renaissance period. In fact, this painting is often considered to be the very first painting that used naturalistic imagery while rejecting the limitations of Gothic art.
The Uffizi Gallery – A Cultural Florentine Treasure.
The Uffizi gallery in Florence houses one of the most iconic collections of art in the world. No visit to Florence, the city that birthed the world-changing Italian Renaissance, would be complete with taking the time to appreciate the wonderful paintings that are on display in the magnificent Uffizi gallery.