Uffizi Gallery
Art Museum, Florence: Origins, History, Permanent Collection.

Detail of The Birth of Venus (c.1484)
By Sandro Botticelli. One of the
Greatest Renaissance Paintings.

The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery (or Galleria degli Uffizi), is one of the oldest and most celebrated art museums in Europe. It is located in the Palazzo degli Uffizi, in Florence, Italy - the home of the European Renaissance. As one might expect from the foremost museum of Renaissance art in Florence, its collection of masterpieces from the Early and High Renaissance eras, begun by the powerful Medici family, later enlarged by the Lorraine Grand Dukes and completed by the Italian State authorities, is second to none. It also includes other important collections, notably the Contini Bonacossi Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi). The Uffizi has been open to visitors since the late 16th century, and was officially opened to the public in 1765. For another great Florentine art museum, see: Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti).

Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
One of the world's best art museums.

Before visiting the Uffizi, see
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art
and How to Appreciate Paintings.

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Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin
Pinakothek Museum Munich
Kunsthistorisches Museum


Founded in 1581 by Grand-Duke Francesco I de' Medici, son of Cosimo I, the Uffizi Gallery was is housed on the top floor of a large building designed and built by Giorgio Vasari between 1560 and 1580, and finished by architects Parigi and Buontalenti. As the name 'Uffizi' (offices) indicates, the building's original purpose was to house various bureaucratic functions, or magistracies - hence its original title: the Palazzo dei Magistrati. Its construction incorporated a raised passageway or corridor connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace, both centres of Medici power.

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History and Development of the Art Collection

The Uffizi collection evolved over several centuries, starting from the 16th century, and was enriched by painting and sculpture acquired over the years by the Medici in their villas and palaces. Members of the dynasty who were active patrons of fine art included: Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360-1429), Cosimo I (1389-1464), Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-92), Pope Leo X (1475-1521), Pope Clement VII (1478-34), followed by Grand Duke Cosimo I (1519-74), Grand Duke Francesco I (1541-87), Grand Duke and Cardinal Ferdinando I (1549-1609), Grand Duke Cosimo II (1590-1621), Grand Duke Ferdinando II (1610-70), and Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642-73), to name but some of this extraordinary Italian family.

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For a list of the finest works of
painting, see:
Greatest Paintings Ever
Oils, watercolours, mixed media
from 1300-present.

Best Art Museums in America.

For top creative practitioners, see:
Best Artists of All Time.


Erudite cataloguing of the collections began at the end of the 17th century, not long before the Medici hold on the Grand Duchy of Tuscany passed to the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine, and shortly before the last surviving Medici - Anna Maria Ludovica (1667-1743) bequeathed the entire collection to the city of Florence in 1737. Later, in 1782, the collection was further organized, but a more comprehensive re-classification and re-ordering in 1919 provides the basis for the modern display.

Highlights of the Collection

The world-class collection of fine art painting in the Uffizi includes works by the finest Florentine Primitives and Trecentists (eg. Cimabue and Giotto), Sienese Trecentists, Venetian, Roman and Florentine Quattrocentists (including 20 by Sandro Botticelli), Cinquecentists (eg. the 3 Renaissance leaders Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphel), the top religious painters, portraitists and printmakers of the Flemish and German movements of the Northern Renaissance (eg. Van der Weyden, Cranach, Durer), early and late Mannerists (eg.Caravaggio, El Greco), artists from 16th and 17th Venice (eg. Titian, Giorgione, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese, Tiepolo, Canaletto), works by the great history and portrait artists of the Flemish and Dutch Baroque schools (eg. Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Velazquez), as well as the great Spanish painters (eg. Zurbaran, Velazquez, Goya), and masters of still life (eg. Rachel Ruysch, Jean Chardin), to name but a few.


Proto-Renaissance (1250-1400)

Duccio (1255-1319) (Rucellai Madonna)
Giotto (1267-1337) (Badia Polyptych, Ognissanti Madonna)
Cimabue (1272-1302) (Santa Trinita Madonna)
Simone Martini (1284-1344) (Annunciation and Two Saints)

Early Renaissance (1400-90)

Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) (The Battle of San Romano)
Masaccio (1401-28) Madonna and Child with Saint Anne)
Piero della Francesca (1420-92) (Portraits: Duke & Duchess of Urbino)
Mantegna (1431-1506) (Triptych; Adoration of the Magi, Circumcision, Ascension)
Andrea del Verrocchio (1453-88) (Baptism of Christ)
Botticelli (1445-1510) (La Primavera; Venus and Mars; Birth of Venus;)
Filippo Lippi (1457-1504) (Madonna and Child with Angels)
Correggio (1489-1534) (Adoration of the Child; Rest During the Flight Into Egypt)

High Renaissance (1490-1530)

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) (The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Magi)
Michelangelo (1475-1564) (The Doni Tondo)
Raphael (1483-1520) (Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi)

Northern Renaissance (1430-1580)

Van der Weyden (1399-1464) (Entombment)
Memling, Hans (1435-94) (Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels)
Dürer, Albrecht (1471-1528) (The Adoration of the Magi)
Cranach, Lucas the Elder (1472-1553) (Portraits of Frederick III and Johann I)
Holbein, Hans the Younger (1497-1543) (Portrait of Sir Richard Southwell)


Mannerism (1530-1600)

Vasari, Giorgio (1511-74) (Portrait of Lotenzo the Magnificent)
El Greco (1541-1614) (Saints John the Evangelist and Francis)
Caravaggio (1570-1610) (Sacrifice of Isaac, Bacchus, Head of Medusa)

Venice (16th Century)

Titian (1488-1576) (Flora, Venus of Urbino)
Tintoretto (1518-94) Portrait of a Man with a Red Beard)
Veronese (1528-88) (Saint Agatha Crowned by Angels)

Baroque (1600-1700)

Rubens (1577-1640) (Dudith and Holophernes; Henry IV at the Battle of Ivry)
Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) (Portrait of Charles V on Horseback)
Velazquez (1599-1660) (Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV of Spain)
Rembrandt (1606-69) (Self Portrait as a Young Man; Self Portrait as Old Man)

Italian 17th Century

Tiepolo (1696-1770) (Erecting a Statue in Honour of an Emperor)
Canaletto (1697-1768) (View of the Ducal Palace; View of the Grand Canal)

17th/18th Century

Ruysch, Rachel (1664-1750) (Fruits and Insects)
Chardin, Jean (1699-1779) Boy Playing Cards
Goya (1746-1828) (Portrait of Maria Teresa de Vallabriga on Horseback)

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