Uffizi has the Unusual Problem of Having too Many Masterpieces:
There are plenty of world-class art galleries in Italy but the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (Galleria degli Uffizi) has one of the finest treasure troves of art anywhere in the world.
For art lovers, the Uffizi alone is a good enough reason to visit Florence. Millions of other visitors are attracted to visit due to the Uffizi’s reputation which in turn makes the Uffizi one of Florence’s most popular attractions.
The Uffizi’s Medici Connection
It’s rare for an art museum to have too many masterpieces to display. That happy fate befell the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. When Electress Anna Maria died (the last of the Medici), she willed the entire family collection to the gallery in 1743. The wealth of the Medici family is well known and the art works collected over several centuries, provide a view of one of the richest art collections anywhere in the world.
The Uffizi occupies a building originally intended as office space for the Grand Duke Cosimo I (1519-1574). ‘Uffici’ in Italian means ‘offices’. The gallery itself was completed in 1581 from a design by Vasari, under the sponsorship of Cosimo’s son, Francisco. Gradually, the Medici transferred more and more works here, creating the world’s first public art museum in 1591.
Many art museums start with a small, sometimes outstanding, collection of privately collected works. However here, as with everything they did the Medici – rulers of Florence off and on for generations – packed them in by the cartload.
What to See in The Uffizi
Works are presented in chronological order, giving viewers the opportunity to see the whole panoply of Renaissance art in the manner it developed. That display constitutes not just an education but an experience of a lifetime.
Among the works here are the famed Venus by Botticelli. The Ognissanti Madonna by the late Gothic master, Giotto, is on display. It is kept company by The Madonna and Child with Two Angels, by Lippi, along with hundreds more equally great works. Raphael‘s Madonna del cardellino (Madonna of the Goldfinch) resides not far from a Bacchus by Caravaggio.
One wall holds the Venus of Urbino by Titian. Another displays the Baptism of the Christ by del Verrocchio. Michelangelo‘s Doni Tondo is one of the lesser works in this superb collection. Da Vinci’s Annunciation is just down the corridor. The famed Mannerist painting, The Madonna of the Long Neck by Parmigianino resides in the Uffizi.
Outstanding as that portion of the collection undoubtedly is, there is much more to the Uffizi than Italian Renaissance works of the masters.
Rembrandt‘s Self-Portrait as an Old Man is one example. The Adoration of the Magi by the great German master, Albrecht Dürer is yet another. El Greco, Goya and Velasquez are all well represented.
Many later works are on display, too, including over 250 self-portraits one of which is of Chagall who handed his to the curator personally. Works by Ingres, Delacroix and Rubens can be seen in the narrow corridors. The museum also holds almost 1,400 miniatures, second only to the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Even with careful planning, it is impossible to view the entire Uffizi collection in one visit. Nowhere else in the world is there quite this comprehensive display of so many fine works.
If your time in Florence is limited and to get the best of your experience at the Uffizi, it may be worthwhile joining a guided tour where you will be shown the important pieces of art and the local guide will fill you in on all the information about the artists and their perspectives. During the summer it can take several hours to get in without a reservation. Therefore, booking well in advance is vital. Uffizi tickets online booking.
Loggiata degli Uffizi 6