NEW MICHELANGELO ROOM/ SALA 35 UNVEILED AT THE UFFIZI GALLERY
The new Michelangelo Room at the Uffizi Gallery was presented to the public on January 29, 2013. The re-construction of the room and the re-installation of paintings there were entirely funded by The Friends of the Uffizi Gallery and our sister organization in Italy, Amici degli Uffizi.
The Michelangelo Room is found on the second floor of the Uffizi Gallery and the re-construction involved dismantling, cleaning and resetting the original marble floor. The walls were re-plastered and painted red. This is the same red that is also used in the first floor galleries that hold early sixteenth-century Florentine paintings like those now found here. Descriptive labels have been added for all the works in the room, including the statue of “Sleeping Ariadne,” which was relocated to this room because it’s believed this work was admired by Michelangelo. The statue was also provided with a new iron base. A new, state-of-the-art security system was installed to protect the art works in the room. New text panels with information were placed besides all the works.
The pinnacle of this project was the re-installation of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “Tondo Doni” to the new Michelangelo Room. This oil and tempera on panel painting is the only confirmed panel painting of Michelangelo’s that has survived and is still in its original frame, which was also cleaned in preparation for the re-installation. The work depicts the Holy Family in the foreground and St. John in the middle ground on the right. It was likely commissioned to celebrate a patron’s marriage somewhere between 1503 and 1507. The work hangs directly across from the entrance to the room, making it the true heart and focus and also because in this work Giorgio Vasari pinpoints the beginning of the “modern” style in Florentine art. The “Tondo Doni” has also now been covered with protective shatterproof glass.
During WWII the “Tondo Doni” was removed from the Uffizi Gallery and hidden from the Nazi looting and bombing in the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano and then in Castello di Poppi. Restoration of the work began in 1984 and was completed in 2008.
The works by early sixteenth-century Florentine painters that were moved into this room include those to the immediate right and left of the “Tondo Doni” by Francesco Granacci, who was a friend of Michelangelo. These are “Entry of Charles VIII into Florence,” c.1497, “Joseph Led to Prison,” 1515 and “Joseph Presents His Father and Brothers to the Pharaoh,” 1516-1517.
The works to the right and left of Granacci’s paintings showcase two separate artistic schools active during Michelangelo’s lifetime. On the right are works from Scuola di San Marco, or San Marco School, including “Vision of St. Bartholomew,”1503, and “Portia,” 1495, by Bartolomeo di Paolo di Jacopo del Fattorino detto Baccio della Porta, also known as Fra Bartolomeo. Also from this school, are works by Mariottoe Albertinelli, including “Scenes from Christ’s Childhood,” 1503 and “Visitation,” 1503.
To the right of the “Tondo Doni” are works from the Scuola dell’Annunziata, or Annunziata School. These include “The Risen Christ Appearing to St. Mary Magdalene,” 1509-1510 by Andrea del Sarto and, “Madonna with Child and Young St. John” and ”Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St Job,” both dating to the early sixteenth-century and both by Franciabigio.
The final works in the room include, “Mother and Child,” by Giuliano Bugiardini and two works by the Spanish painter Gonzàlez de Berruguete Alonso, including “Madonna and Child,”c. 1517 and “Salomè with the Baptist’s Head,” c. 1518. He was friends with both Michelangelo and Granacci.
Polo Museale Fiorentino, the organization in Italy that handles the administration for the Uffizi Gallery has prepared this captivating video that documented the process for the re-installation of Michelangelo’s magnificent “Tondo Doni.”