The Uffizi Gallery Museum is one of the biggest attractions in Florence. A former palace with dozens of offices (“uffizi"), the museum is made up of two floors of 45 halls that are now filled with beautiful and important works of art.
Most people only know that Michelangelo’s larger-than-life David towers over tourists in the Uffizi, not far from the room featuring Botticelli’s famed The Birth of Venus. If you have ever taken a course in art history, you will recognize many of the works on display at this important museum.
One of the more recently opened halls in the Uffizi is known as the Michelangelo Room, or “Sala Michelangelo”. Hall 35 opened in 2013 and is devoted to the work of Michelangelo and his fellow Florentines, including Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto. Michelangelo is arguably most famous for his sculptures such as the David, also housed at the Uffizi, and the somber Pieta, and for his large-scale paintings such as the Sistine Chapel’s frescoed ceiling. Gazing upon his smaller, lesser-known works is a reminder that his talent could not be confined to a single scale or medium.
On the center of one of the red walls in Hall 35, in an ornate round frame, hangs the only portable painting by Michelangelo that remains in Florence today: the Tondo Doni. The work is named after the Doni family who commissioned the work. Wealthy families frequently commissioned such pieces in Michelangelo’s time. Tondo may be a reference to the round (“rotondo") shape of the painting. The Tondo Doni is enclosed by a wooden frame that was designed by the artist himself.
The sixteenth-century Tondo Doni depicts the holy family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) and St. John the Baptist. Renaissance-era paintings of the holy family are abundant, but this one by Michelangelo is special because of its unnaturally bright colors and the composition of the characters which forms a rotating spiral. In the background, nude figures represent the paganism that is perhaps symbolically left behind after the introduction of Christianity.
The bright colors and unexpected positions which were preferred by Italian masters Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci inspired the mannerism movement that proceeded the Renaissance. No longer were artists content to reproduce figures in a strictly factual manner. The distortions and experimentation with unnatural color represented a real shift in the course of art history.
Are you looking for homes for sale in Tuscany, perhaps your own room with a view in Florence? When you put down roots in a city with such rich artistic heritage and potential, the Sala Michelangelo is just a taste of what is waiting to be discovered.