Uffizi faces: the portraits of the gallery

//Uffizi faces: the portraits of the gallery
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Uffizi faces: the portraits of the gallery

While the Middle Ages don’t have many samples of portraits, Renaissance and its revolution give to the human face a completely different importance in arts.

Being Florence the very centre of the most famous development of Renaissance arts, and having one of the most important, and ancient, museum in the world, you can navigate the Uffizi’s gallery on a mission some of the first portraits and self – portraits in the history of arts.

Human faces in Humanism

Humanism, or: the philosophical “mother” of Renaissance. If you want to distillate a few centuries of speculation in a single quote: Man as the centre of the universe.

With this perspective in background, the XV Century paintings give a lot of attention to the human face.

While what probably is (art historians are not unanimous on that) the first portrait of an artist in a fresco is a made in Siena one (Taddeo di Bartolo is believed having depicted himself as Saint Thaddeus in the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin, Siena cathedral), it is Leonardo to say that now the artist has to paint a face

“to show what the painted figure has in his soul”.

Uffizi faces: human faces in (not only Florentine and Italian) Renaissance


Probably the most enigmatic – yet beautiful – Uffizi portrait is Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder (Ritratto d’uomo con medaglia di Cosimo il Vecchio), 1474 – 1475, by Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510).

We are not sure – and maybe we’ll never be – about who is the portrayed man: maybe the philosopher Pico della Mirandola; maybe an exponent of the Medici family, or even Botticelli’s brother, Antonio. No matter who he is, you’ll never forget the guy’s eyes and… his red hat!

Another Botticelli’s painting, the Adoration of the Magi (1475), according to some art historians, could include Sandro’s self portrait: the blonde man looking at… you could be a Botticelli selfie 😉


Northern Europe had its own Renaissance.

At the Uffizi museum an entire hall hosts Albrecht Dürer’s and his school works.

Albrecht is another great “face reader”. While his most famous self – portrait (Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar) is in Munich, at the Uffizi you can enjoy his Albrecht Dürer the Elder with a Rosary (actually half of the Diptych of Dürer’s parents: his mother painting is in Nuremberg) and another… selfie: one of the Three Kings in his Adoration of the Magi (1504) could be him.

Uffizi has many more stories to tell and… faces to show: follow us here, on Facebook and contact us for your Florence tour to know more!

By |2018-07-11T10:01:14+00:00April 12th, 2018|Discovering Florence|0 Comments

About the Author:

My passion for languages and travels led me to study languages, particularly English and German, first at the Language High School and the at the Translator and Interpreter School in Florence. I then graduated at the University of Pisa in Languages, with a specialization in History of Art. I have been active in the tourist sector for almost 20 years and since 1997 I have been working as a licensed tourist guide in Florence. I have lots of interests like, for example, travels, wines … and more…

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