Rooms 9 and 15 of the Uffizi Gallery, devoted to the paintings of the Early Renaissance, reopened last October after being renovated as part of the Nuovi Uffizi project. These rooms, part of an area that once housed the Medici theatre designed by Bernardo Buontalenti, host masterpieces by Pollaiolo, Hugo van der Goes, Ghirlandaio, and paintings by Botticelli, including his celebrated Spring and Birth of Venus.
The new Botticelli rooms have been designed to meet the needs of visitors. Eike Schmidt, the director of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, said that “the paintings have been arranged in the new rooms in such a way as to respond to the flow of visitors before the masterpieces. Visitor experience has thus been immeasurably improved not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of ease of interpretation of the works of art, because each painting is displayed in direct relation to those in its immediate vicinity in terms of style, date or subject matter.”
The emphasis is on Botticelli’s later works.
“Not only do the ‘new’ walls tangibly illustrate the network of cultural and stylistic relations that existed between the Flemish and Florentine painters, a relationship with which scholars have long been familiar, but they also lay the correct emphasis on Botticelli’s later works, while the most famous ‘icons’, Spring and the Birth of Venus, are placed in proper perspective in the large rooms which are also intercommunicating in a visual sense,” said Schmidt.
The renovation has benefited from a generous donation from the Friends of Florence, a not-for-profit organization, which raised the entire sum required both for the lighting and layout of the rooms and for restoring the paintings themselves in a fundraising campaign among its generous US members that took only six weeks. This act of generosity, as Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, the foundation’s chair, pointed out, once again strengthens the historic tie binding the interests of American culture to Florence’s historical heritage: “The renovation of the rooms devoted to the Early Renaissance, hosting the masterpieces of Pollaiolo, Botticelli and Hugo van der Goes, testifies to the intensity of our foundation’s interest in the Gallerie degli Uffizi and the works it houses. From the restoration of the statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi via the Room of Niobe, the Tribune and Roberto Barni’s sculpture for the 20th anniversary of the Mafia car bomb in Via dei Georgofili right up to the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe and the project for the Early Renaissance rooms, Friends of Florence has been playing a front-line role since 1998, working hand in hand with the institutions and the Gallerie degli Uffizi’s management on preserving and enhancing these masterpieces,” said Brandolini D’Adda.