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Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi), Florence

Overview

Palazzo Vecchio seen from Uffizi Gallery
Palazzo Vecchio seen from Uffizi Gallery

Photo by Chris Wee on Flickr

The Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is the oldest art museum in Europe and, according to UNESCO, it has the largest collection of Renaissance paintings. It is ranked 25th among the most visited art museums in the world, with about 2 million visitors a year. The building is located in the historical center of Florence, near Palazzo Vecchio. The name of the gallery comes from the Italian word "uffizi", meaning offices, so the literal translation is "Palace of the Offices". Cosimo I de Medici proposed in 1560 a building to be built in Florence to include the administrative offices of the magistrates in the city. The construction started in 1561 by architect Giorgio Vasari, and completed in 1581. The last floor was intended for the Medici family's art collection, containing paintings and Roman sculptures. Close to the end of the powerful Medici family dynasty, the last lineal descendant was Anna Maria Ludovica de Medici, the only daughter of Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. After her husband Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm died in June 1716, she returned to Florence and became a lonely woman, with a somber appearance, always dressed in black, "a pale ghost of the former glow of the powerful Medici family." She left the house only to go to church and at night, in an 8-horse carriage, to look at the city. In 1743, through the Patto di Famiglia ("Family Pact"), she willed the entire Medici inheritance to the Tuscan state, under strictly condition that nothing was ever to be removed from Florence. It was the largest donation ever made to the state by a private person. In the drafting of the donation act, three mandatory conditions were specified. First was that the artistic heritage was transferred "for the beauty of the state", the second that the works of art were intended to "be useful to the public in Florence", and the last was that the huge collection had the purpose "to awaken the curiosity of foreigners".
Uffizi Gallery - interior
Uffizi Gallery - interior

Photo by PetarM on Wikimedia Commons

It was also mandatory that "no piece of art be transported outside the capital and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany." The only two people who ignored this provision of the will were Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler, as German troops took over 300 paintings. The artworks taken by Hitler were later returned to the Italian state. A painting with the portrait of the founder of this museum, the daughter of Cosimo III, the last descendant of the Medici family, Anna Maria Ludovica de Medici, is exhibited at the entrance of the Uffizi Gallery. Due to the large number of artworks, only paintings from the Italian Renaissance period remained at the Uffizi Gallery, being the largest Renaissance painting collection in the world. The other pieces were transferred to other museums in Florence. The collections of miniatures and drawings formed the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings, the sculptures were moved to the Bargello Museum, the collections with Etruscan art are at the Archeology Museum, jewels and the precious objects are at the Silver Museum of the Pitti Palace and some paintings were transferred to the Academy Museum and the San Marco Monastery Museum.

Artworks

The most important paintings in the Uffizy Gallery are, in a chronological order:

'Madonna and Child' by Filippo Lippi
'Madonna and Child' by Filippo Lippi

Photo by Google Cultural Institute on Wikimedia Commons

'The Baptism of Christ' by Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci
'The Baptism of Christ' by Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci

Photo by Pixel8tor on Wikimedia Commons

'Annunciation' by Leonardo da Vinci
'Annunciation' by Leonardo da Vinci

Photo by Livioandronico2013 on Wikimedia Commons

'Primavera' by Botticelli
'Primavera' by Botticelli

Photo by Aavindraa on Wikimedia Commons

'The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli
'The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli

Photo by Google Cultural Institute on Wikimedia Commons

'Doni Tondo' by Michelangelo
'Doni Tondo' by Michelangelo

Photo by Alonso de Mendoza on Wikimedia Commons

'Madonna of the Goldfinch' by Raphael Sanzio
'Madonna of the Goldfinch' by Raphael Sanzio

Photo by Google Cultural Institute on Wikimedia Commons

'Venus of Urbino' by Titian
'Venus of Urbino' by Titian

Photo by Google Cultural Institute on Wikimedia Commons

'Bacchus' by Caravaggio
'Bacchus' by Caravaggio

Photo by Alonso de Mendoza on Wikimedia Commons

'Self portrait as a Young Man' by Rembrandt
'Self portrait as a Young Man' by Rembrandt

Photo by Vincent Steenberg on Wikimedia Commons

Ticket and schedule info: www.uffizi.it/en/