uffizi masterpieces

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The Madonna and Child with St. Anne, also known as Sant'Anna Metterza, is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Masaccio, probably in collaboration with Masolino da Panicale, c. 1424. The Virgin and Child, with its powerful volume and solid possession of space by means of an assured perspectival structure, is one of the earliest works credited to Masaccio. But for one, the angels, very delicate in their tender forms and pale, gentle colouring, are from the more Gothic brush of Masolino; the angel in the upper right hand curve reveals the hand of Masaccio. The figure of St. Anne is much worn and hence to be judged with difficulty, but her hand, which seems to explore the depth of the picture-space, may well be an invention of Masaccio. The ‘Madonna and Child with Saint Anne’ was originally commissioned for the Sant’Ambrogio church in Florence. According to Vasari, “It was placed in the chapel door which leads to the nuns’ parlour”. The figure of Christ is that of a young child, a realistic presence, rather than a gothic cherub. This is also one of the first paintings to display the effect of true natural light on the figure; it is this invention which imparts the modelling of form so characteristic of Masaccio, and which would have a profound influence on the painting of the Italian Renaissance.
This painting is just the central panel of a large triptych painted by Paolo Uccello approximately in 1438, now dispersed and divided between the Uffizi, the National Gallery in London and the Louvre in Paris. The cycle depicts three events occurred during the Battle of San Romano that took place in 1432 between Florence and Siena and that marked the glorious victory of Florence. The work was commissioned by the wealthy Bartolini family but in 1492 it was included already in the inventory of Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as “the Magnificent”. What makes this cycle a masterpiece is the bold and experimental use of the perspective who made Uccello famous. The panel of the Uffizi depicts the unhorsing of Bernardino della Ciarda, leader of Sienese mercenaries. The soldier is the man on the white horse just in the center, hit by an enemy spear. The composition is very crowded, but despite that the atmosphere is somewhat unreal and the knights look like fake dummies of a medieval tournament. Paolo Uccello is more interested in the perspective and its application than in the human feelings. The naturalistic details, the hunting scenes in the background, the finicky description of the armors and the horses remind us of the fairy-tale gothic aestethics. Paolo Uccello is indeed an important transition artist, fully in love with the Renaissance revolution of Renaissance but winking at the gothic tradition.
The Annunciation was painted by Leonardo da Vinci round 1475-1480. One of the main, typical traits of the genius Leonardo da Vinci – a painter, inventor, military engineer, astronomer, architect - was “introducing” and “reproducing” nature inside his works of art. Just to have an idea, please notice the wings of the Archangel Gabriel announcing Mary she will be the mother of Jesus: here are real bird wings, not just an artistic representation of them! Science within art, art within science, this is the great, charming characteristic of Leonardo da Vinci.
Tondo Doni is a very special painting: it is the only painting on panel by Michelangelo Buonarroti. It is round, hence its name "Tondo" which, in Italian, means round. It was a private commission; the great artist from the Renaissance in fact painted it for the rich Florentine banker Agnolo Doni (here is the reason why it is called Tondo Doni) . Michelangelo, the great sculptor from the Renaissance, shows us here his incredible skill in painting too. Absolutely new are the colours used by Michelangelo in his masterpiece: Mannerists will highly appreciate them. The magnificence of this painting is now underlined by the recently restored room which houses it whose walls are of an intense red, actually crimson, a colour which catches your attention even from the corridor and which makes this room one of the most attractive of the whole Uffizi Gallery.
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