The Uffizi Gallery Museum

By Alexandra Bonfante-Warren

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Around 1546, Cosimo I, the Medici duke of Tuscany, began to envision bringing Florence's administrative and judicial entities, as well as its most powerful guilds, under a single roof. By 1560, construction was underway. The original design was by Giorgio Vasari, Cosimo's architectural superintendent. The structure stands in the heart of Florence, just off the busy Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio. After Cosimo I's death, his son Francesco I completed the Uffizi (literally, the "offices"). Francesco's profound interest in science, alchemy and art filled the second floors of the building with laboratories where artisans worked jewels, perfumes were distilled, and even medicinal experiments were performed. The east wing of the Uffizi was where Francesco placed the beginnings of the Medicean collection that grew as the successors to the Medici family perpetuated his vision: the galleries were opened for viewing to Florentine families and visiting dignitaries. Today, the collections house masterpieces from early Giotto through the much-loved Botticeielli Birth of Venus and Primavera, Michelangelo's only painting, and works by Titian and Velasquez. A corridor designed by Vasari crosses over the Arno to connect the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace, forming an artery that connects the two museum's histories and art works.

The editors of The Uffizi Gallery have selected 300 of the collection's finest pieces, reproduced here in full-color. Alexandra Bonfante-Warren's well-researched text speaks with authority of an insider privy to the workings of the Medici family as she brings to life the events and decisions that led this singular family—undeniably the greatest art patrons of Western European society—to build and share their incomparable collections of the world.

9 5/8 x 13 in., 320 pages
ISBN: 0-88363-512-7
$75.00 U.S.

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