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this is the view you will get from the top floor of the uffizi gallery, one of florence’s prime jewels. quite spectacular. behind you, however, lie many treasures of the renaissance. the gallery has one long u-shaped corridor adorned by ‘grottesque’ ceiling frescos, linking a number of different rooms where the great masterpieces hang. botticelli, da vinci, titian, michelangelo (who also happened to be my favourite ninja turtle), caravaggio,… you know, the usual gang.

for a non-florentine, non-renaissance art historian, however, i learned as much about florence itself – it’s thriving artistic community (the florentine school took a distinctive approach to art, whereby paintings were done based on perfect preparatory drawings), it’s power struggles (between the strozzi and the medici families) and power affiliations (with the marriage of 2 medici daughters to french kings), it’s role in the democratisation of culture for the purposes of education (well, it’s all relative: when it was first opened ‘to the public’, the uffizi only really welcomed upper class guests…) – as i did about these masterpieces. actually, it’s the pieces of art which i didn’t know about beforehand which i found most fascinating.

this portrait of the duke and duchess of urbino :

piero-francesca-urbino

he lacked one eye and had a (seriously) broken nose; she had ‘perfect’ features (pale skin, hair pulled back very tightly). (although, if you ask me, she has a suspicious-looking lump on the side of her face – perhaps an indication that she is, in fact, dead at the time this painting was finished) (this, by the way, is the other, more academically-proven, explanation for her paleness and, hopefully, lack of eyebrows and eyelashes). anyways, it’s a great representation of a big time power couple.

 

also, this painting of the madonna by filippino lippi:

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as a child, lippi was given away by his very poor family to the monastery on the other side of the arno; but church life wasn’t his calling. he was a monk who liked drinking, women, and painting. his whole life, therefore, is shaped by, on one hand, the grip the church held on him, and, on the other, his own urges. the madonna in this painting was inspired by his lover, a young nun he managed to seduce: lucrezia. the two lived with a few other nuns for a while (hm. i smell scandal.) but eventually the others left, and it was only filippino and lucrezia and their children. they tried to get released from their churchly duties in order to get married, but were never granted this wish.

and despite his scandalous lifestyle and obvious defiance of monastic and clerical principals, lippi remained one of the most prestigious painters in florence, being constantly commissioned by the medicis for his work. this suggests a certain tension between art and the church at the time. the two, whilst being so deeply entwined (so many paintings were deeply religious and symbolic), could also be disassociated. more specifically, cultural morals were not necessarily tied to religious ones.

there were a few more which i found really interesting, and many, many more which i did not see. but you can find out more about these uffizi masterpieces on the uffizi website or – even better – in person. in the end, the uffizi is not just a great art collection: it captures a network of artists who reflect the awesome power, creativity and influence of renaissance art.

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(a sneaky shot of the corridor)

uffizi gallery

between palazzo vecchio and palazzo pitti

easy to find

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One thought on “the uffizi

  1. J’.ai beaucoup apprecié les commentaires sur le Uffizi. Je vais les garder dans mon livre sur Florence. BRAVO. Love. Maman

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