Uffizi Gallery Artworks
The magic of the Uffizi: the world’s most marvelous works in Florence
Florence has always been one of the finest jewels of the Italian peninsula. Indeed, this city represents the origins of Italian culture and art. Everything shines with history and beauty: from the most common palaces to the greatest attractions. Among them, we have the city’s most important monument, a tribute to the artistic spirit of the place: the Uffizi Gallery, home to some of the world’s most spectacular works.
Explore Uffizi Gallery Artworks
The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli (Firenze 1445 – 1510)
This canvas represents one of Master Sandro Botticelli‘s most important masterpieces. The painting, as its name states, depicts the birth of Venus who, according to legend, was created from sea foam and brought to the shores of the island of Cyprus, by the Gods of Winds Zephyrus and Aura (on the left of the canvas). This work is the epitome of Renaissance beauty, strongly influenced by the canons of the Classical era.
The center of the painting has the figure of Venus, depicted with diaphanous skin and long blond hair (made with gold applications), which covers her body, as a sign of demureness. On the right, we can see a maiden leaning toward the goddess, often identified as one of the Graces. It is interesting to note some of the details of the painting, such as the presence of orange trees, framing the painting and the two deities of the Winds.
They are a reference to the de Medici family, to whom the painting was dedicated: the orange plant, years ago, was in fact called ‘mala medica‘, a name that echoes the family’s title, while the deities on the left resemble a Hellenic work, owned by the Magnifico himself.
The Annunciation – Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452 – Amboise 1519)
The Uffizi is also the home to one of the great Leonardo da Vinci‘s most magnificent paintings. It is dated around the last years of the 15th century, and in particular, it is regarded as one of the few paintings, sold on commission, while the young artist was in the circle of Verrocchio’s workshop.
This painting retains delicate strokes and dark hues, influenced by the Flemish tradition, clearly visible in the work’s botanical details, such as the flowers and grasses in the background.
The work embodies a strong contrast between tradition and innovation. On one hand, we can recognize the people painted in the classical pose of the Annunciation iconography, thus tracing the greats of the past. Despite this, the artist makes an innovative choice, depicting the sacred image in an outdoor garden. According to some critics, this decision is meant to pay homage to the whole Creation, which becomes one with the great event of the Incarnation.
Another extremely important element is the presence of plays between light and shadow, as they give a sense of dynamism to the elements of the painting and greater realism. In addition, the Maestro seems to move away from the typical geometric perspective of the 15th century, although some architectural elements retain the flavor of it, to rely on aerial perspective, through the gradient shading of colors.
Medusa – by Caravaggio
This work, one of Caravaggio‘s most fascinating paintings, is an oil painting mounted on a convex shield of poplar wood. It was initially commissioned by Cardinal del Monte for the nobleman Federico I de’ Medici and was already a great success in its early days, so much so that it was praised by the poet Gianbattista Marino in one of his madrigals.
The protagonist of the painting is the famous mythological character Medusa, also called Gorgon, who figures in so many myths and poems of the Ancient Greek literary tradition. Over the centuries, this apotropaic figure took on a strong symbolism, meaning ‘prudence acquired through wisdom.’ For this reason, it was used as an auspicious depiction, toward the people to whom it was dedicated.
The magnificence of this painting lies in the painter’s skillful use of warm and dark colors and tones, so as to make not only the face of the Gorgon as realistic as possible, but also nullifying the convexity of the shield, on which it is painted. All the smallest details, from the snakes that seem to vibrate, the sheen of blood flowing from the wound, and the horror in the figure’s eyes, show the incredible realism, of which Caravaggio was the undisputed genius.
La Primavera (Spring) – Sandro Botticelli (Florence 1445 -1510)
This work by Sandro Botticelli is one of the world’s most renowned symbols of beauty and grace. This painting, tempera on canvas, dated around the end of the 15th century, depicts nine famous figures from classical Greek and Roman mythology in an almost idyllic pastoral setting. Towering in the center are the two most important figures in the painting: toward the top, we have Cupid, depicted in the act of shooting one of his arrows, along with Venus, who gives the main theme to the painting, namely that of Love and Beauty.
On the left, we have the three Graces, dancing together, and Mercury, known as the messenger of the gods. Toward the other end of the work, on the other hand, we have the very personification of Spring, Flora, adorned in a robe richly decorated with flowers, and the god of the Winds, Zephyrus, intent on courting the nymph Clori, she who would become Flora herself.
One of the main elements of the work, however, lies in the background. In fact, we can see more than one hundred and thirty-eight different types of plants and flowers, all depicted with extreme care and realism. All the elements of the work, from the lack of shading, depth, and the marked line of the drawing, lead to one goal: that of creating an idyllic scene, purely idealized and abstracted from the real world.
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Venus of Urbino – Titian (Pieve di Cadore 1488/90 – Venice 1576)
This oil on canvas, dating from around 1538, was made by painter Titian Vecellio on commission from the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo II della Rovere. According to official descriptions, the painting would like to represent a frequent theme in the pictorial tradition, ‘the sleeping Venus‘ or lying-in bed. Despite of this, we know that the painting had a specific purpose: to inspire, albeit in a symbolic way, the duke’s young wife, Giulia da Varano, to fulfill her marital duties.
The painter has reproduced, following the canons of tradition, the figure of the goddess, but transposing it within a purely modern setting, which can be perceived from the workmanship of the furniture and the clothing of the women in the background. The painting contains numerous highly significant details.
From the red roses, signifying time and, consequently, its passing and fading, to the small dog at the foot of the bed, a symbol of fidelity, everything is directed toward a single purpose: that of directing the Duke’s young wife toward the best marital qualities. Knowing how to be as beautiful, sensual and attractive as the young goddess, but also chaste and demure, reserving her attentions only for her husband, as indicated by the ring on the finger of the portrayed goddess and the pearl earring, a symbol of purity.
The Coronation of the Virgin – Lorenzo Monaco (Florence, documentation 1391-1422)
The work is a tempera on panel that was made, according to historians, around 1432 by the great artist Beato Angelico. The author himself made an almost identical panel painting, named in the same way, which now adays resides in the Louvre, France. According to some sources, the work was originally housed in the Church of Sant’Egidio, inside the hospital structure of Santa Maria Nuova, but was later included in the colorful repertoire of the Uffizi Museum.
The work represents, in all its splendor, the world of Paradise, gathered to celebrate the Coronation of the Virgin. At the center of the panel, covered with a thin layer of gold that lends an aura of sacredness, we have a majestic crowd, representing saints, Blessed and angels, intent on admiring the sacred scene.
The colors of the work are bright, strong and are affected, along with the entire style of the work, by the influence of the artist’s master, Lorenzo Monaco, also an expert in sacred representations. The small gem of this work lies in the great care taken in the depiction of the saints, so much so that they can be easily recognized. Indeed, St. Egidio, Antonino Pierozzi, St. Francis, St. Dominic and Mary Magdalene can be recognized in the crowd. Also noteworthy is the spatial scheme, which is defined by the gradually smaller size of the figures in the crowd, as if to suggest their perspective.
Virgin and Child enthroned, surrounded by angels and saints (Ognissanti Maestà) – Giotto (Vespignano, Vicchio di Mugello 1267 – Firenze 1337)
This magnificent work of art, painted in 1310 in tempera and gold on panel, is one of Giotto‘s finest masterpieces. The painting takes its name from the church in which it was previously located, the Church of Ognissanti in Florence.
Although the painting has some traditional elements of iconoclastic painting, such as the background decorated in thin, fine gold and the hierarchical proportions, it is tangible evidence of Giotto’s genius as he begins to adopt quite different styles and pictorial choices, innovating the landscape of the time.
In fact, we can see how the central figures, the Madonna and the Child Jesus, are depicted with a solid volume, unlike the tradition of the time, in order to recover the three-dimensionality of the ancient world, as opposed to the classical Byzantine frontality, in vogue at the time.
The painting also possesses a strong perspective, which is signaled by the cusped throne and the gaze of the Angels around the two figures, thus giving them a sense of depth and otherness. In the gaze and faces of the angelic figures, we can also notice, despite the perfect symmetry, typical of the art of that time, a search for realism, especially in the creation of the somatic features, which make them more human and closer to us. Your Attractive Heading
Judith Beheading Holofernes – Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593 – Naples 1652/53)
This magnificent painting is an oil on canvas, dating from the 17th century, painted by the famous painter of the time, Artemisia Gentileschi. The work depicts a biblical scene well known to the public and to artistic tradition, namely the beheading of Holofernes, the enemy general, at the hands of Judith and her handmaiden.
This painting is a little gem, representing the author’s style, full of rather precise and refined details and artistic choices. In addition, it is possible to notice the strong choice of dark, decisive colors, which is blatantly accompanied by the ferocity and precision of the facial expressions, indicating their strong emotions.
The great realism of the painting is also represented by numerous elements of the scene, including the focal point of the scene: the neck of Holofernes, from which a labile stream of blood spurts out, creating a macabre and realistic pattern throughout the canvas.
The painter managed to represent this detail beautifully by creating splashes of red paint, which she threw onto the canvas from her brush. This scene is also accentuated by the strong contrast of light and shadows, which enclose the figures with a pitch blackness, throughout the painting.
Adoration of the Magi – Gentile da Fabriano (Fabriano 1370 c. – Roma 1427)
Gentile da Fabriano offers us a spectacular reinterpretation of a common theme in sacred representation and artistic tradition within this work of his. Dated 1432, the work is framed by a beautiful gold inlay, highlighting its otherness and sacredness. The panel, painted in tempera and oil, is one of the finest masterpieces not only by the artist but of the entire Gothic era in Italy.
The work was commissioned by Palla degli Strozzi, one of the most eminent Florentine citizens of the time, for the chapel of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, so as to represent the power and pomp of the Church. The work is divided into three lunettes, making the representation of the pomp of the caravan even more blatant.
In the central part, we can see the sumptuous procession of the Magi, which unravels creating a trail toward the centerpiece of the work: the Nativity, with the Magi prostrate in admiration of the Child Jesus. The colors of the canvas are deep, very strong, and accentuated, typical of the style of the period, flanked by numerous retouches and decorations in fine gold, which emphasize the sacredness of the characters.
In the figure of one of the Magi, particularly the one with the falcon, we can recognize the commissioner of the work Palla degli Strozzi, finely depicted in all his richness.
Madonna and Child with Two Angels – Filippo Lippi (Florence 1406 c. – Spoleto 1469)
This work is a fine tempera on canvas, dating from 1465, which was made by Maestro Filippo Lippi, a well-known painter of the time. This painting is so renowned that it has been the example to be followed by every new representation of such a subject, also inspiring other very famous authors, such as Sandro Botticelli. According to literary tradition, the artist was inspired by Lucrezia Bruti, a noblewoman of the time, but according to others, it was made in honor of the birth of the artist’s son, Filippino.
The painting is inspired, quite significantly, by Flemish painting, and depicts the Holy Family in an extremely innovative position, leaning toward the side of the painting near a window, showing the surrounding landscape. The avant-garde style can also be deduced from the skillful use of colors, with delicate and light hues, which bring out its brightness and naturalistic effect.
The balance of the painting is also from the alternation of expressions, between the playfulness of the Angel and the seriousness of Madonna’s gaze. The space of the painting is also extremely detailed, with certain elements in the position of the characters helping to dilate the landscape and create the illusion of perspective, such as the arrangement of the angels and Madonna’s legs.
These are just a few of the countless works that are housed in the Uffizi Museum, a manifesto of the magnificence of Italian art throughout the world.