Sunday, March 13, 2011

Florence #2

Woke up this morning to discover the rain is back. Bummer. Made it easy to decide what to do though - definitely an indoor kind of day.
I caught the bus to the Ponte Vecchio and walked over to the Uffizi. Decided I'd better have an early lunch first, in the Piazza San Giovanni of course. I finally got in the Uffizi queue at 12.30. It wasn't a very long queue, as queues go for this sort of thing, but it turned out that length is irrelevant. Only a certain number of people are allowed inside at any one time so.... as one group comes out, the next lot are let in. I was in the fourth lot (since I got there) to be let in - at 2.15. Turned out I spent the rest of the day there. It costs 11 euros and there's proper airport type security to go through as well. Photography is not allowed in the galleries and the guards are very vigilant in that regard. I snuck a couple but mostly didn't bother. Just as well that I'd left the big camera behind today - it'd have got very damned heavy around my neck doing nothing.
The Uffizi is nowhere near as big as the Louvre. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. There are two long galleries that flank the courtyard. These are lined with classical statues, mostly Roman. I did a double take when I saw 'Laocoon and his sons' at the end of one corridor because I was sure I'd seen that in the Vatican - turns out to be a Renaissance era copy made for one of the popes.
There are over 40 rooms that lead off from the main corridors and these are where the paintings are displayed. It follows chronologically from late Medieval through to early 18th century. Some of the rooms are closed, however, due to building and restoration work going on at the gallery. The early works are, of course, all religious in nature - in fact, the majority of the whole collection is the same. The first thing that really caught my attention was a whole room of Botticelli paintings - including, of course, the Birth of Venus. It's one of the famous art works and understandably so. The colours are not strong or vibrant but more pastelly, more peaceful somehow. I love the colour of Venus' hair. Looking round the room it seemed to me that all of Botticelli's women have vaguely the same face and same dreamy expression.
There are three da Vincis on display. You can tell his work a mile off. Just a class above. The Adoration of the Magi is a large square piece that was never finished. It's a very dark, almost sepia, piece, mainly because the type of paints Leonardo was experimenting with (egg based I think, if I remember rightly) deteriorated very quickly. The finished piece would have been absolutely stunning with the amount of detail he had planned. It would have been a masterwork of perspective. Many of the faces are completed and each one is an individual. This is where da Vinci really stands out for me - the attention to detail and the deliberate individualisation of each character he painted. Outstanding.
Another extremely important work on display is Michelangelo's Doni Tondo. I didn't realise until today that this is the only (known) painting by Michelangelo that can be moved - all his others are on walls and ceilings. I managed to sneak a snap while mingling with a Japanese tour group so the guard didn't notice:

Doni Tondo

Just on the tour group thing: if you want to have a decent look at the paintings you have to time your viewings between groups. They come into a room, usually 20 or so people, and plonk themselves right in front of the artwork. The rooms aren't big. If there are two groups in a room at the same time, you haven't got a chance of seeing anything till they zip off to the next "must see" exhibit. Patience is required.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you follow the exit signs without investigating the rest of the rooms beyond it, you'll miss the Dutch rooms with three Rembrandt portraits on display. His use of light and dark has always fascinated me.
Similarly downstairs, if you follow the exit signs you'll miss the Carravagios tucked away down there.
I eventually wandered outside to discover it was almost dark. It didn't feel like I'd been in there that long. An excellent way to spend a day.
It's been raining really heavily all night now. Hope it doesn't continue.

Later...

1 comment:

9fragments - CJStrahan said...

Laocoon and his sons seem to be following you around ...

Lovely post, Jules.