At the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Virtually explore the Uffizi with Smarthistory as your guide

Some background

videos + essays

Link to the Uffizi's website

Hugo van der Goes, <em>Portinari Altarpiece</em>
Hugo van der Goes, Portinari Altarpiece

This particular artwork perfectly embodies all the things that northern European painters were thought to do best.

The Crucifixion, c. 1200 (from Christus triumphans to Christus patiens)
The Crucifixion, c. 1200 (from Christus triumphans to Christus patiens)

A comparison of two Italian medieval crosses shows the transformation of Christ from transcendent to human.

Giotto, <em>The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned</em>
Giotto, The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned

This is a Mary like we’ve never seen before—she’s more monumental and sits in a space that makes sense.

Cimabue, <em>Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinità Maestà)</em>
Cimabue, Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinità Maestà)

Set against gleaming gold, Mary and Christ sit on an intricately carved throne studded with gems.

Simone Martini, <em>Annunciation</em>
Simone Martini, Annunciation

Girl, interrupted—Mary’s initial reaction to Gabriel adds human experience to the dignity and grace of this scene.

Duccio, Heaven on earth— <em>The Rucellai Madonna</em>
Duccio, Heaven on earth— The Rucellai Madonna

Sure, decorative patterns and prismatic color impress us now, but gold and ultramarine once broadcast value.

Titian, <em>Venus of Urbino</em>
Titian, Venus of Urbino

The female nude emerged as a genre in the Renaissance.

Botticelli, <em>Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici</em>
Botticelli, Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici

Touch an artwork? Sandro Botticelli’s Portrait of a Man with a Medal helped viewers to think about touch and physical experience.

Gentile da Fabriano, <em>Adoration of the Magi</em> (reframed)
Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi (reframed)

Brilliant golden brocades. Psuedo-Arabic. Turbans. Leopards and lions. The Adoration of the Magi speaks to the global flow of goods at this time.

Dissecting Botticelli’s <em>Adoration of the Magi</em>
Dissecting Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi

Three men arrive to bless Christ. Are they wise—or just rich? Better defer to that young painter in the crowd...

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, <em>Self-Portrait</em>
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait

She fled France in disguise, but Vigée Le Brun does little to conceal her face—or her sympathy to Marie Antoinette.

Rachel Ruysch, <em>Fruit and Insects</em>
Rachel Ruysch, Fruit and Insects

No wonder Ruysch treats each element of this still life like a scientific specimen—her father preserved insects.