The Uffizi Gallery hosts the most important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings in the world. Here you can immerse yourself in the masterpieces of Botticelli, Leonardo and Raffaello amongst others. It’s the kind of place that will turn you into an art lover if you’re not already.
The Uffizi Gallery is an unforgettable museum, especially for lovers of Renaissance art. But a little planning will help you get the most out of your experience. Firstly: book in advance. This will cut down the time you spend in a queue. It’s a bit more expensive to book ahead, but worthwhile. Our advice? Book to go early in the morning, when the queues are at their shortest. Uffizi gallery limits the number of visitors each hour.
It’s advisable to look at a plan of the Uffizi and decide which rooms or paintings you most want to see. As with any major museum, the size and the number of visitors can make the visit quite tiring. Planning ahead means you won’t miss anything on your wish list. The audio-guides are informative, or you can book a tour tailored to your interest.
Here’s a shortlist of the most famous and iconic paintings of the Uffizi. And the most celebrated works of art that you cannot miss when you visit this gallery.
Numbers of the Uffizi Gallery- a brief introduction
The Uffizi gallery boasts 93 rooms. The visit starts from the second floor (1-45 halls) – and carries on to the first floor (46-93)
It sees around 2 million visitors each year, and it is easily the most visited museum in Italy.
Once you’re inside there are no shortage of surprises in store. Here’s a look at the best and most famous masterpieces.
The first halls (2-6) are dedicated to the 12th-14th century. In HALL 2 there are three magnificent works that show a major revolution in art history, all of which deserve your attention. All are entitled “Madonna Enthroned”, created by Cimabue (1280-85), Duccio di Boninsegna (1285-6), and Giotto (c.1300). Notice the evident change in style that took place in the 25 years that separate the last panel from the earliest ones.
HALL 3 – Sienese influence. The Sienese artists were the next to advance the research into perspective. But Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Simone Martini are still anchored in Gothic manners, despite attempts to give dimension to their paintings. In HALL 5 and 6 there are examples of the lavish International Gothic that influenced Florentine painting at the beginning of 1400.
HALL 7 – Early Renaissance. Here you’ll find “Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” (1424-5) – an important work that was a collaboration between Masolino and Masaccio. The contrast with the previous rooms is striking. Notice the modernity that Masaccio brings with his Madonna compared to the upper part of the painting (Saint Anne was painted by Masolino and is still Gothic in her rigidity – For more on this subject, don’t miss the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of S. Maria del Carmine). The other painting that can’t be missed is the mesmerising Battle of San Romano, by Paolo Uccello (1436). This is a classic example of how this original artist experimented with perspective, applying rational order to a busy scene.
HALL 8 – dedicated to early Renaissance artist Fra Filippo Lippi. This Florentine painter was a forerunner to Botticelli, his paintings showing skilful contrast between colour and form.
HALLS 10-14 – probably the most famous of all. These rooms house Botticelli’s masterpieces. The halls have been completely renovated and reopened in October 2016. Now these almost mythical paintings have the perfect setting, well lit and spacious. Botticelli looks for harmony and ideal beauty in his extremely elegant “Primavera“, “Birth of Venus”. Here you also find his “Annunciation” and “Adoration of the Magi”.
HALL 15 – another big name graces this room dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci and his ‘Conquest of Nature’. His “Annunciation”(1472) and the recently restored “Adoration of the Magi”(1481) reflect the effort of a complex artist to imitate natural appearances and phenomena. In the same room don’t miss “Madonna with Saints” by Perugino, who was Raphael’s teacher.
HALL 35 – Here you’ll find the only surviving painted panel by Michelangelo, “Doni Tondo” or “Holy Family” (1504 c.). By the time he painted this Michelangelo was already legendary, having sculpted the statue of David and the Pietà. The strong colours are a new invention, and so is the way he treats human figures. In this room you can see the transition to High Renaissance.
HALL 58 and HALL 66- The High Renaissance style can be defined as the ‘idealisation of natural appearances’ and characterises the beginning of 1500. The best two examples of this style are in the Uffizi: “Madonna of the Harpies” by Andrea del Sarto (1517), Florence’s finest colourist. And the renowned “Madonna of the Goldfinch” by Raffaello (1506) in HALL 66 which is dedicated to him.
HALLS 60-65 – Mannerist artists including portraits by Bronzino. Look out for Rosso Fiorentino “Moses defending the daughters of Jethro” (c. 1523), a canvas crowded with bodies and harsh lighting. Or Pontormo‘s “Supper at Emmaus” (1525). Bronzino shouldn’t be missed, as his portraits are the best example of the late Mannerist style. He was the court painter to Cosimo I the Gran duke of Tuscany. His elegant work is alive with detail and show incredible technical skill.
HALL 83 – Tiziano, the leading artist of the Venetian school. “The Venus of Urbino”(1538) is the best known of his works. With the open sensuality of Venus, this painting couldn’t be more different from Botticelli’s. The room also houses various portraits by the same artist.
HALL 90 – Caravaggio was only 20 when he painted “Bacchus”. It displays the basic features of his novel style. He abandoned the idea of beauty “for the sake of realism”. His Bacchus is in fact a model who has a tanned face and hands, probably a peasant. A striped mattress peeps out from under the white material, revealing the reality of the studio where the artist was painting.
Where is the Uffizi Gallery?
The Uffizi Gallery is in Piazzale degli Uffizi, between Piazza Signoria and the River Arno. The gallery has a very scenic terrace with a café that offers amazing views of Piazza Signoria.