Museums: Uffizi Gallery – Florence, Italy

europe, florence, italy, museums, travel

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Uffizi Gallery. Florence, Italy. October, 2014.

I would love to spend a whole day at the Uffizi Gallery (and I’m hoping I get some time to do just that before I leave Florence), but for a school field trip we did get a concise sort of introductory tour of the place.

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Things are looking impressive already, and this is just the foyer next to the stairs. #fancy #MediciLiving

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The hallways are lined with windows and the ceilings with frescoes

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I love looking up and seeing strange motifs, symbolisms, random things, and trying to figure out what in the hell they were thinking (because sometimes the paintings get really weird haha)

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First, we visited the medieval collection. The theme was predominantly religious, and the works were not so much focused on realism, but more on a graphic, almost kooky style.

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You’ll also notice that they use a lot of gold leaf, which is precious and insanely expensive and therefore is what they used for religious paintings that were also precious to them.

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They also used a lot of red and blue, which is a big deal because these were also the most expensive paint pigments, and of course Jesus and Mary and other religious scenes deserve only the best materials of the time.

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How kooky are these paintings?

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Fast forward to the next era, The Early Renaissance, where the style is very much into realism and softer lines.

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This also marked the beginning of people as painting subjects, instead of religious figures. This diptych above is of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, by Piero della Francesca. I guess they wanted to place themselves on the same level of importance as religious figures. #notsohumblebrag

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Gorgeous frame though. Gold, naturally.

Next we visited one of the most famous and influential pieces of art, Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

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Our teacher discussed in detail the different theories and ideas on the symbolisms in this painting, but basically she believes that the Birth of Venus is essentially the ‘birth of love’.

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You can see tons of symbolisms in the painting alluding to love, like in this portion above, where Zephyr is blowing a gentle breeze towards Venus, and these dainty pink flowers which could symbolize the coming of Spring, or life.

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And here on the other side of the painting, a girl (dressed also in florals) holding up a nice soft blanket to drape over Venus–maybe alluding to love as a blanket of protection/ safety?

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And here is Venus (also the Goddess of Love), standing in the center, calm and without shame, gesturing to her heart and to her reproductive organs (to put it delicately), symbolizing the importance of both aspects (physical and spiritual/emotional) of love. She’s also standing on a shell, which could also be a symbol for her being precious, like a pearl.

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Next, we viewed another famous Botticelli painting, Primavera, or Allegory of Spring. 

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So many gorgeous details

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And floral themes

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Spring = love = life

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She could be pregnant, so that’s another spring = life symbolism

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And in a sneaky corner, we see Zephyr again

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Sue me for noticing odd details like this, but I love these sandals. They’re surprisingly modern :))

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Also, don’t you love this big guy with dainty photo fingers?

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Next, across the room from Birth of Venus, we viewed this gigantic triptych painting depicting the birth of Christ. It may be no accident at all that the Birth of Venus is right across the Birth of Christ. Another sneaky symbolism, perhaps? Both represent the birth of love.

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Of course, rich people (usually the patrons of the paintings) have the habit of asking to be painted into the historical scene as though they themselves had been spotted attending. They really thought that much of themselves.

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This is a neat little detail that our teacher pointed out: the shoe. Since it is highly unlikely that the painter just happened to place a random shoe there, it is more likely a symbolism of the place where Christ was born being sacred ground (since people normally take their shoes off when entering a hallowed place).

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In another Renaissance room (in a rather unassuming corner), is Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio’s painting, Annunciation

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Da Vinci was also a scientist, so a lot of elements of his paintings feature anatomically correct depictions, such as the wings on the angel (which are based on bird wings).

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I also love gorgeous details like this awesome table.

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We passed several more rooms and halls (which I hope to visit soon), and still the ceilings had all these gorgeous frescoes

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Love this trellis fresco which really makes you feel like you’re looking outside and having a Snow White moment with the birds and flowers.

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And I also love these frescoes which wrap around the wooden beams of the architecture

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The views out the windows didn’t hurt, either

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A view of Oltrarno

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A view towards Centro Storico–the duomo’s dome, Palazzo Vecchio, and the tourists milling about

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A gorgeous view of the many bridges of Florence (Hello Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor, if you can spot it)

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And outside on a terrace, a great closeup view of the tower of Palazzo Vecchio

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A hallway with these interesting sculptures (our teacher told us this torso is her boyfriend haha)

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Sculpture of a boy taking a thorn out of the sole of his foot

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Painting of a lady waiting to be dressed? Or being boss.

And when you think you’re about to exit, suddenly you’re met with a bunch of Caravaggios. The Medicis seriously had too much money :)) #MediciLiving

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Medusa

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Sacrifice of Isaac

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Bacchus

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And finally this interesting painting of Judith and Holofernes by a woman painter (a rare find)–Artemisia Gentileschi. Talk about women feeling suppressed/oppressed–why else would her subject be that of women beheading men?

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