The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 22 – Galleria Uffizi and the Zombie Apocalypse 

Today we visited the Uffizi Museo, established by the Medici family in the late 1500s. As well as art treasures beyond compare (until we visit Venice, Barcelona and Paris) a zombie apocalypse can also be observed.

This takes the form of large masses of people, up to 40 or more, all hypnotized by devices plugged into their ears. A lead zombie entones chants and spells into a microphone. Where they direct, the mob goes. Do not stand in their way, and do not linger at an exhibit when they approach or you will be consumed. Here is a picture of one.

That shows mostly just one tour group. I did see a fair bit of frustration shown by other patrons trying to see paintings, or take pictures as these groups moved through the gallery spaces.

On the subject of pictures, lots of people were taking them. I was talking with an an Amercian at one point – standing in front of Leonardo’s The Annunciation as it happens – and we were debating the merits of millions of mostly poor quality digital images. I think it’s fair enough for people to want and have a souvenir. I do wish they would turn off the fake shutter sounds though!

The gallery has very strict rule about photography – no flash and no selfie sticks. You may also not play a musical instrument, lean on the wall, talk on your phone, or bring umbrellas into the museum.

a sign outlining what you cannot do

Anyway, here is my souvenir image from that conversation.

The Uffizi Museo is organized into rooms  that trace the history of art and sculpture from early times – 4 BC for some marble work, AD 1200 for painting. The rooms all come off long U-shaped corridors on the first and second floors.

Lining the walls are statues and busts. Behind each statue is a large portrait, usually of someone from the Medici  family, and at the very top of the wall smaller portraits of ‘illustrious people’. It’s quite a spectacle.

I’ve always thought that statues were robust and solid, so the grace and elegance of the following work took be by surprise.

The ceilings in the passageways are heavily frescoed. Every single section is unique.

a ceiling frescoe

As we walked from room to room the change in pairing style was quite evident. This work Crucifix and Eight Stories from the passion ca 1240 has a very flat rendering of the subjects

Compare that with this work, Presentation at the Temple by  Ambrogio  Lorenzetti from 1342 where there is a marked use of perspective.

Later rooms had more non-religious subjects – portraits, landscapes, and this picture of flowers. Painted in 1647 by Daniel Seghers, it is also interesting because it is oil paint on copper – something that would have been a challenge at that time for a work of this size.

An interesting aspect of the museum is set of exhibits set aside for the blind. Thin gloves must be worn for the selected sculptures, and there are some paintings with a relief of the work and notes in Braille.

One of the lasts rooms on the second floor has sculptures and large paintings, which I’ve included here so you can get an idea of the scale.

The first floor has works from the 1700s and 1800s, and people tended to race by these works. The first floor is the second one you visit as you walk through the gallery – you start at the top and work your way down. Quote of the day goes to a North American woman who walked into the Michelangelo room and after looking at a few works not by him she exclaimed loudly, “I thought there was a Michelangelo in here”, before walking out.

I’ll leave you with the work she missed, The Doni Tondo, sometimes called The Holy Family, painted around 1504. The frame is a work of art in itself, and is thought to have been designed by the Master. And before you ask, the colours really are that vibrant.

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