Focus on interaction among the great Renaissance geniuses working in Florence in the early 16th century
As of today the works of Michelangelo and of Raphael are on display together, in the same room in the Uffizi. The large room – number 41 in the western corridor – that was the home until October 2016 of Sandro Botticelli's paintings (which have now been rehoused in a new area), has been totally renovated with a layout designed specifically to highlight the diversity of artistic expression and, at the same time, the interaction between Raphael and Michelangelo, both of whom were in Florence from 1504 to 1508. Together with the adjacent Leonardo Room, which is due to open in a few weeks' time, the new room hosting the masterpieces of Raphael and of Michelangelo celebrates that truly unique moment in man's history when, in this city and in the space of only a few years, the greatest artists in the world created the iconic works that are seen today as part of the universal ideal of the Italian Renaissance. The new installation highlights the role of private patrons such as the Doni – the only patrons, apart from the pope to have succeeded in obtaining masterpieces from both Michelangelo and Raphael – and the Nasi for whom Raphael painted the Madonna of the Goldfinch.
Gallerie degli Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt stressed that "the new installation replaces the display of isolated masterpieces side by side with the principle of dialogue among works, artists and their patrons, urging visitors to discover and to explore the artistic interaction among the great masters of the past. That is why a third figure has entered the scene, a painter whom dialogue with Raphael has restored to his proper place as a major artist in his own right. Fra Bartolomeo (1473–1517) was a Dominican friar in San Marco and a very close friend of Raphael with whom, from the moment the latter arrived in Florence in 1504, he forged an intense and extremely fruitful relationship that visitors will now be able to explore further through the paintings on display".
The entire project for the restoration and redesign of the Raphael and Michelangelo Room has been generously funded by the Amici degli Uffizi and the Friends of the Uffizi Galleries, the only not-for-profit associations that devote their energies solely to supporting, safeguarding and enhancing the Gallerie degli Uffizi.
Regarding the technical decisions implemented in the new Michelangelo room, architect Antonio Godoli, curator of the Uffizi's architectural heritage – and in charge of the project together with architect Nicola Santini – explained that "the main paintings are housed in glass-fronted cases that allow visitors to observe the pictures close up. The climate in the cases is controlled by instruments permanently monitored by staff and guaranteeing an optimal conservation environment, while their metal structures meet antiseismic standards. This display system, designed by the Uffizi and already adopted by us for Botticelli, Leonardo and Caravaggio, has also proved popular with other museums."