Florence: Lost in the Uffizi

Officially opened to the public in 1765, the Uffizi Gallery was one of the first museums in the modern sense of the word.  It is also notorious for having long lines.  Although the Florence Card allowed us to bypass some of the lines, after we passed through security, we had about fifteen minutes of frustration in which we were just standing in a mass of people.  Any semblance of a line had disappeared.  We Americans were about to have a meltdown, but we made it through.

The museum is huge, but it was still crowded.  Not so crowded that I couldn’t move around comfortably or get close to a painting, but crowded enough that I got separated from Jesse and our friends.  I spent over an hour wandering around the first corridor by myself.  At first I was worried whether I would ever be able to find my husband again.  Soon, though, I was absorbed in the Renaissance masterpieces and stopped worrying.

For me, the diptych of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero Della Francesca epitomizes the Renaissance elite who were the patrons of artists.  The duchess looks haughty, and the duke has a “don’t mess with me” look in his eyes.  They were so confident in their power and wealth that they didn’t have to appear more beautiful in their portraits than they were in real life.  Although the duke is facing to the left to disguise his missing right eye, the artist didn’t do anything to disguise his hideous nose!

The Duchess of Urbino (Image from Wikipedia)

They were so confident in their power and wealth that they didn’t have to appear more beautiful in their portraits than they were in real life.  Although the duke is facing to the left to disguise his missing right eye, the artist didn’t do anything to disguise his hideous nose!

The Duke of Urbino (Image from Wikipedia)

The Botticelli room was my favorite.  I couldn’t believe that the paintings I’d seen so often in textbooks were hanging in front of me.  I don’t have the vocabulary to properly describe them.

According to my Uffizi guidebook, this painting is actually not depicting the birth of Venus, but rather the arrival of Venus at an island.  She is blown along by Zephryus and Aura and is being welcomed with a flowered cloak.  The colors are soft.  Venus is posing chastely on her shell.  She seems modest but also unaware of her beauty.  The figures are so graceful.

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli (From Wikipedia)

There was quite a crowd around Primavera (Spring).  I eavesdropped on a tour being given in English.  This painting is also full of figures from mythology and can be interpreted in many different ways.  I love the translucent material of the dresses, as well as the beautiful expressions on the Three Graces’ faces.

Primavera by Botticelli (Image from Wikipedia)

The Annunciation was a popular subject in Renaissance art.  I like Botticelli’s the best.  Gabriel clearly has an important message to deliver, and Mary is almost shrinking away from him, shocked by the appearance of the angel and uncertain about the role for which God has selected her.

The Annunciation by Botticelli (image from Wikipedia)

The painting that captivated me the most is one by Botticelli’s master, Fra’ Filippo Lippi.  I was not familiar with this artist before going to Florence, but he is one of the greats.

Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Lippi (Image from Wikipedia)

This Madonna’s profile stuck in my mind.  She has such a gentle face and sad eyes.   Lippi’s skill is evident in the Madonna’s hair, which is piled on her head, decorated with pearls, and covered with a sheer veil.

How did Lippi paint such magnificent beauty? I purchased a book about the Uffizi on my way out of the museum and turned to this painting right away.  Lippi was in love with the model, who was both a nun and the mother of his son.

In the end, I was reunited with my group.  Jesse and I both had our cellphones with us, so I couldn’t have lost him forever, but when I emerged from the First Corridor I did panic a bit as I surveyed the mass of people and no redhead was in sight.  Turns out my group had gone through two corridors in the time that I did one.

I don’t know as much about the Renaissance or art history as I would like to, but I left the Uffizi eager to learn more.

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2 Comments

Filed under art, Florence, Italy, Pisa, Travel

2 responses to “Florence: Lost in the Uffizi

  1. I adore Florence. Thanks for sharing the art. It felt like I was touring the museum with you )

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