The exhibit on display documents the variety of talents that have made women leading players in history and knowledge in different sectors, stretching from the humblest jobs in the countryside to art, crafts, literature and sciences.

This year the Gallerie degil Uffizi is celebrating International Women's Day with an exhibition devoted to the professional commitment and talent of women in Italy from the late 19th and to the early 20th centuries. The time frame chosen starts and ends with two very specific events: women joining the Fratellanza Artigianale or Artisans' Brotherhood in 1861, and Grazia Deledda winning the Nobel Prize for her novel Canes in the Wind in 1926. These two symbolic dates mark the story of the redemption of women's image and public role in the aftermath of the unification of Italy. Works of art, photographs and objects illustrate the various forms of work performed by women, describing often unacknowledged energies and resources. Peasant women, for example, involved in farm work linked to the cycle of the seasons, had to take care of the animals on the farm, but when resting from the toughest jobs they would keep busy by mending, knitting or weaving straw, as we can see in the many paintings by Silvestro Lega hanging in the gallery.

A different future awaited the women of the bourgeois class, who were educated and who could go into teaching or become artists and even writers. In the latter case, however, they had to restrict their work to subjects considered specifically feminine such as children's books or school textbooks, or to penning articles for magazines for young ladies on the latest fashions, running the household, etiquette, good manners and so forth.

The seeming serenity of the salon, however, often provided cover for revolutionary and patriotic thinking, becoming fertile terrain for lively intellectual debate. In this period Florence was a favourite destination and meeting place for leading members of the female world not only in literature and the arts but also in the sphere of social and political engagement on an international scale. The city hosted women of the calibre of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jessie White Mario, Theodosia Garrow Trollope and Margaret Fuller.

The exhibition, produced in conjunction with Advancing Women Artists, pans out in scenographic fashion around a central core of large works, thus allowing its female protagonists to emerge as the true stars of the show. The tour continues in the halls of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti themselves, which host one of the most magnificent collections of works on women's labour in the fields at the turn of the 19th century, following a visual fil rouge with captions and focuses in addition to a multi-media screening on women in the workplace.

"In the space of just over half a century, the time frame explored in the exhibition, conditions developed for women's social liberation and for a new independence for them, so that they were no longer restricted to the sole role of angel of the hearth. The exhibits tell the story of a time when the question of women came to the fore, when engagement in the workplace, political interests, intellectual life and independence were still a privilege or the result of a struggle" said Gallerie degli Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt. Simonella  Condemi, who curated the exhibition and directs the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti, added: "women had to build their own identity in society and in the workplace while continuing to play a crucial role in the daily life of the family and in the home. We have endeavoured to pay tribute to women's tireless toil by showcasing both the variety of different ways in which it that toil was expressed and women's talent in the fields of art, photography, writing, teaching, politics and many other spheres."

"Florence was a magnet for foreign women artists who sought to carve out 'a room of their own' in the salon and the studio – and, eventually, the academy itself. International female artists are well represented in this exhibition because 'ex-pat women' enjoyed a brand of freedom in Italy that was unknown in their home countries," explained Linda Falcone, director of Advancing Women Artists, a Florence-based US organisation devoted to researching, restoring and displaying art by historic women in Tuscany’s museums and museum storehouses. "In the show, this freedom is represented by works painted by German symbolist Julia Hoffmann Tedesco who emulated her Macchiaiolo husband’s interest in portraying women and their personal sphere, Irish portraitist, poet and palatine for the Italian cause, Louisa Grace Bartolini, Mary Egerton Bracken, an English socialite and painter who frequented the Browning’s entourage at Casa Guidi, and French-born Nabis artist Elisabeth Chaplin, the youngest and most prolific artist represented in the Gallerie degil Uffizi's collection.”

The catalogue is published by Sillabe in two versions, Italian and English.

Odoardo Borrani (Pisa 1833 – Firenze 1905) Alla Galleria dell’Accademia, sec. XIX olio su tela Galleria dell’Accademia, Firenze I Odoardo Borrani (Pisa 1833 – Florence 1905) At the Accademia Gallery 19th century oil on canvas Galleria dell’Accademia, FlorenceMichele Tedesco Segreta attesa MAM - Musei Aiello Moliterno I Michele Tedesco (Moliterno 1834 – Naples 1917) Secret Expectation  n.d. oil on canvas MAM, Museo dell’Ottocento Lucano, MoliternoPlinio Nomellini (Livorno 1866 – Firenze 1943) Ritratto di Grazia Deledda 1914 olio su tela Collezione privata, Firenze I Plinio Nomellini (Livorno 1866 – Florence 1943) Portrait of Grazia Deledda 1914 oil on canvas Private collection, FlorenceFausto Zonaro (Masi 1854 – Sanremo 1929) Mia moglie Elisa 1904 olio su tela Eredi Zonaro, Firenze I Fausto Zonaro (Masi 1854 – Sanremo 1929) My Wife Elisa 1904 oil on canvas Zonaro heirs, FlorenceEttore Tito (Castellammare di Stabia 1859 – Venezia 1941) L’amazzone 1906 circa olio su tela Raccolte Frugone, Genova I Ettore Tito (Castellammare di Stabia 1859 – Venice 1941) Horsewoman c. 1906 oil on canvas Raccolte Frugone, GenoaAdriano Cecioni Nanà Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Firenze I Adriano Cecioni (Fontebuona 1836 – Florence 1886) Nanà 1881 circa terracotta Galleria d’arte moderna, Gallerie degli Uffizi, FlorenceMichele Tedesco (Moliterno 1834 – Napoli 1917) La tempesta 1888 circa olio su tela Città Metropolitana, Napoli I Michele Tedesco (Moliterno 1834 – Naples 1917) The Storm c. 1888 oil on canvas Città Metropolitana, NaplesGiuseppe De Nittis (Barletta 1846 – Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1884) In posa 1869 acquerello su carta Galleria Berman, Torino I Giuseppe De Nittis (Barletta 1846 – Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1884) Posing 1869 watercolour on paper Galleria Berman, TurinCarlo Stratta (Torino 1852-1936) Aracne 1893 olio su tela Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino I Carlo Stratta (Turin 1852-1936) Arachne 1893 oil on canvas Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, TurinPompeo Mariani (Monza 1857 – Bordighera 1927) Sotto gli ulivi 1898 olio su tela GAM, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Genova I Pompeo Mariani (Monza 1857 – Bordighera 1927) Beneath the Olive Trees  1898 oil on canvas GAM, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, GenoaAlmanacco della donna italiana 1922 Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Firenze I Almanacco della donna italiana 1922 Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, FlorenceAutore non identificato Lezione di anatomia artistica 1900 circa fotografia Raccolte museali Fratelli Alinari, Firenze I Unidentified photographer  Artistic anatomy lesson c. 1900 photograph Raccolte museali Fratelli Alinari, FlorenceFratelli Alinari Operaia della Manifattura Tabacchi di San Pancrazio, Firenze 1901 fotografia Archivi Alinari, Firenze I Fratelli Alinari Female Worker at the Manifattura Tabacchi, San Pancrazio, Florence  1901 photograph Archivi Alinari, FlorenceAutore non identificato Fotografa che guarda l’inquadratura, mentre ritrae una giovane coppia 1902 fotografia Collezione Favrod, Raccolte museali Fratelli Alinari, Firenze I Unidentified photographer  Woman photographing a young couple 1902 photograph Favrod Collection, Raccolte museali Fratelli Alinari, Florence


Exhibition promoted by

Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali

Gallerie degli Uffizi

Firenze Musei

Exhibition venue

Fiorino Hall, Gallery of Modern Art, Pitti Palace

Exhibition Period

7 March – 26 May 2019

Opening hours

Tuesday – Sunday

from 8.15 am to 6.50 pm;

closed Monday

Guided tour service

Information and reservations: Firenze Musei +39.055.290383


The exhibition is included in the admission ticket to the museums of Pitti Palace and has the same opening hours info