5 unmissable masterworks at the Uffizi Gallery

Visit some of the world's most famous Renaissance artworks

Any trip to Florence must include a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. Lovers of fine art will find an enchanting museum where they can admire the extraordinary talent of the artists that made Italy famous throughout the world. The museum contains paintings from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries. The  largest part  of the collection are works from the Italian Renaissance period, most of which are paintings. A thorough visit of the gallery would require a full day, but if you have less time, here are the 5 paintings you won’t want to miss. 
The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli
Birth of Venus - Credit: Pietro Zanarini

Let the alluring beauty of The Birth of Venus overwhelming you. This  Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece, so rich in meaning and allegorical references to antiquity, was commissioned by Medici’s family and painted between 1482 and 1485. It is possible to classify it in Neoplatonism: a current of thought that tried to connect the Greek and Roman cultural heritage with Christianity so, in accord to this fact, the work would mean the birth of love and the spiritual beauty as a driving force of life.

The Annunciation, Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo's Annunciation - Credit: sAErNLFH1KFYmw at Google Cultural Institute

Don't miss Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation (1472–1475, ca), which is still astonishing visitors at Uffizi since 1867 when it came from the Olivetan monastery of San Bartolomeo. Leonardo painted this work when he was very young alongside his master Andrea Verrocchio. One can clearly see Vinci’s style on the Angel Gabriel on the left, whose face bears a distinct similarity to the artist’s other works, the La Belle Ferronnière and the Mona Lisa. 

Doni Tondo, Michelangelo Buonarroti
Doni Tondo - Credit: Victor R. Ruiz

The Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo (1503 or 1504), the only painting by Michelangelo in Florence, is in the form of a 'round', a shape which is frequently associated during the Renaissance with domestic ideas so for private clients. It was probably commissioned by the rich florentine banker Agnolo Doni (here is the reason why it is called Tondo Doni), who wanted to have a round painting depicting the Holy Family in his house,to commemorate his marriage to Maddalena Strozzi, the daughter of a powerful Tuscan family. 

Medusa, Caravaggio
Caravaggio's Medusa - Credit: Carole Raddato

Another tondo(round) will capture your attention during your Uffizi adventure. It’s the Caravaggio’s painting of Medusa (1597). She was a gorgon, a terrifying female creature so repulsive, that whoever looked at her, supposedly turned to stone. Medusa, painted at the moment of self-recognition when she was realizing that her head and body were no longer one, is a wonderful example of Caravaggio’s focus on physiognomic in his paintings. It shows an intense level of realism, and Caravaggio uses dark and light contrasts so effectively that Medusa looks three-dimensional.

La Primavera, Botticelli
Primavera - Credit: Victor R. Ruiz

Among the greatest works at the Uffizi Museum, last but not least, is La Primavera (depicted between 1477 and 1482), another wonderful and famous Botticelli’s work of art, commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, a cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Its interpretation is difficult and still uncertain, but what is instead certain is the humanistic meaning of the work: Venus is the goodwill, as she distinguishes the material (on the right) from the spiritual values (on the left). La primavera, as The birth of Venus, is another example of Neoplatonism current linked to the ideal of beauty and the absolute love.

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Art and Culture