A New Room for Michelangelo & Raphael in the Uffizi

Tondo Doni

Michelangelo’s famous Tondo Doni and Raphael’s Madonna del Cardellino headline the opening of a new room on the second floor of the Uffizi Gallery dedicated to showcasing the greats of the Renaissance. In total, 11 masterworks from the 15th century are brought together, normally displayed in disparate areas of the museum, as well as in the Pitti Palace.

The rich colors of the pieces stand out against the light grey walls of the space. Some are set into the wall while others project outwards and are cased in climate-controlled glass.  This curatorial touch brings the artwork fully to life and allows viewers to get closer to the paintings.

The Tondo Doni is the first thing visible upon walking through the main entrance. The thick round frame of the painting, adorned with several three-dimensional protruding heads, sits back against a circular impression in the center wall. Commissioned by the wealthy Doni family in celebration of the birth of their daughter, the work features a sculpture-like depiction of the sacred family with an unconventional, strong-armed Mary, and a background featuring a young St. John the Baptist and several male nude figures.

It’s fitting that visitors see portraits of the Doni family—Agnolo Doni and his wife Maddalena Strozzi—done by Raphael, who commissioned Michelangelo’s painting of the Tondo.

Other works by Raphael on display are the portraits of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro and Elisabetta Gonzaga.

The room also includes a marble sculpture, usually referred to as “Head of the Dying Alexander,” another famous treasure that is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic work, reflecting the influence on Classic art on Renaissance masters. Three notable works by Raphael’s friend Fra Bartolomeo: La Visione di San Bernardo, Porzia, and a diptych of The Annunciation are also part of the installation. An artistic contemporary of Raphael, Fra Bartolomeo was also influenced by his style.

Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Gallery describes the new layout as an effort to reunite the artistic superstars of the Renaissance in one space. The effort continues this summer, as the gallery plans to open another room on the second floor dedicated to the works of Leonardo da Vinci on July 9.   (tyler bunton)

A slideshow of the gallery, courtesy of Repubblica, can be viewed here.