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Announcements | 07/08/2019

A year of exhibitions at the Uffizi Galleries

A year of exhibitions at the Uffizi Galleries

From classical sculpture and the history of footwear to the great painting of the 1800s and the art of the 21st century

Art for twelve months with great Classical sculpture, the first monographic exhibition ever to explore the work of 19th century painter Giuseppe Bezzuoli, the contemporary romanticism of Neo Rauch, an exhibition of stolen ancient manuscripts recovered by the Carabinieri and a special retrospective looking at the history and development of footwear through the ages: the Gallerie degli Uffizi's programme of exhibitions from autumn 2019 to summer 2020 is once again designed to appeal to the tastes and interests of as broad a range of visitors as possible.

Archaeology rules the roost with three very different events, kicking off just before Christmas with At the Feet of the Gods. Footwear from Classical times to the modern era (Palazzo Pitti, Museo della Moda e del Costume, 16 December 2019 – 19 April 2020). For once, the ancient world steps down off its haughty pedestal to explore a fashion-related theme – while taking great care to clear the air of all frivolity – as it probes a singular aspect of society and style from ancient times to the present day, even including an evaluation of the design and accuracy of "sword-and-sandal movie" footwear.

One of the Uffizi's best-loved halls, the Room of Niobe, will be taking on a new guise as it becomes a venue for stylistic comparison among sculptures in the exhibition The Legend Rediscovered. Comparing the Niobids from the Horti Lamiani and the Villa of Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, with the recent unearthing of more statues depicting the same subject matter near Ciampino (Uffizi, Sala della Niobe, 18 December 2019 – 15 March 2020). The now regular archaeological event of the summer in the Limonaia in the Boboli Garden will be devoted this year to a virtual and real reconstruction of a legendary city in Asia Minor: Hierapolis, Lady of the Nympths. The legend and the reality of an Asian city (26 May – 18 October 2020), allowing visitors to explore a part of present-day Turkey as it was in the days of the Roman and Byzantine Empires.

Forged in Fire. Bronze sculpture in Florence under the last Medici (Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi, 18 September 2019 – 12 January 2020) ties in with the Florence International Biennial Antiques Fair in Palazzo Corsini, adopting a totally new approach to the topic, with numerous discoveries resulting from research in international collections and in the archives, and with many of the Gallerie degli Uffizi's sensational new acquisitions on the art market. One of the sections explores the relationship between the preparatory drawing and the bronze end product, an issue – converting the two-dimensional into the three-dimensional – broadly addressed also in a ground-breaking exhibition entitled Heaven in a Room. Wooden ceilings in Renaissance Florence and Rome (Uffizi, Sala Detti and Sala del Camino, 10 December 2019 – 8 March 2020), sparked by the collapse of the ceiling in the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami in Rome. The exhibition sets out to heighten people's awareness of the need to take greater care of our heritage, but it also offers an opportunity for aesthetic enjoyment with dazzling drawings, models and ceiling parts crafted with the finesse and polish of the goldsmith's art. It will also be something of a discovery: who ever thinks, on entering a great hall or a church, of staring at the rafters or at the pannelled ceiling?

Conservation, in the sense of safeguarding our heritage, also lies at the heart of an exhibition celebrating the struggle against crime and a thoroughly Italian body of excellence, the Carabinieri's Cultural Heritage Protection Command: Stories of Painted Pages. Manuscripts and illuminations recovered by the Florentine Cultural Heritage Protection Unit (Palazzo Pitti, Sala delle Nicchie, 21 March – 23 June 2020). Recent crime and ancient history are intertwined here, the detectives' patient (and often dangerous) job going hand in hand with the work of experts who trace fragments and torn pages back to their original volumes, rediscovering the exact location of a stolen codex, reconstructing the context in which the codex was produced and the scriptorium from which it came.

The second, long-awaited encounter of the autumn is with a controversial figure in the grand style: Pietro Aretino and Art of the Renaissance (Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana, 26 November 2019 – 3 March 2020), or "how a thinker and a man of letters can both influence and reflect the tastes of an era". The exhibition will be showcasing extremely famous works by Sebastiano del Piombo, Titian and others, alongside manuscripts and exhibits loaned by museums from all over the world illustrating the triumph of Mannerism, the so-called "modern manner", in art.

Celebrations to mark International Women's Day kick off with 'The Greatness of the Universe' in the art of Giovanna Garzoni (Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, 6 March – 7 June 2020), exploring the figure of the artist from an unusual angle: a traveller despite the strict social conventions of her era, Garzoni is shown here as a documentarist recording an exotic and dazzling world in European collections of Naturalia transmitted to Florence with exquisitely detailed drawings and paintings depicting an astonishing range of subjects.

The 19th century takes pride of place in Giuseppe Bezzuoli (1789–1855). A master painter of the Romantic era (Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana and Sala Detti, 2 April – 31 July 2020), a monographic exhibition that pays tribute for the very first time to this immensely important artist while also offering visitors the surprise of a series of works recently acquired by the Gallerie degli Uffizi, every one a masterpiece if we consider that they caused a sensation throughout Europe when they were first presented to the public: one has but to look at Eve as she flirts with the serpent, sitting completely naked on damp undergrowth (the picture was painted in 1853, ten years before Manet's Déjéneur sur l'herbe!).

The 19th century Andito degli Angeli will itself be both a setting and a work of art in its own right, complementing rather than simply hosting an exhibition of the work of German contemporary artist Neo Rauch due to open in the autumn (Neo Rauch. Works from 2006 to 2019. Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, 16 October 2019 – 12 January 2020). The exhibits showcased for the occasion were specially devised for the Andito degli Angeli and in many ways their mood and spirit also echo the great age of German Romantic painting.

Gallerie degli Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt remarked: “With this selection of exhibitions we have endeavoured to cater for every type of visitor to the galleries, to arouse their interest and curiosity, to involve them in the debate on such topical issues as the theft of works of art (illuminated manuscripts) and their conservation (Renaissance ceilings); to allow them to explore Asia Minor from ancient times to the age of the Renaissance thinkers and to travel in time from the legend of the Niobids to the tortured humanity of Neo Rauch; and to involve them in a dialogue among sculptures from the great age of the Baroque in Florence and the events hosted in the city such as the Palazzo Corsini antiques fair. All the exhibitions are based on new scholarship and in many instances also on the Gallerie degli Uffizi's recent acquisitions, thus confirming our determination to continue fostering proactive dialogue with the city, its visitors and its young people and to ensure that the exhibitions hosted in the museum spaces and in the Boboli Garden fuel an exchange of ideas and growing awareness”.


Exhibition Schedule


Forged in Fire.

Bronze sculpture in Florence under the last Medici

curated by Eike D. Schmidt, Sandro Bellesi and Riccardo Gennaioli

Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi

18 September 2019 – 12 January 2020


For the very first time, the exhibition sets out to offer a complete overview of the art of bronze sculpture in Florence in the Baroque era, focusing in particular on the age of the last Medici Grand Dukes. Starting with a selection of bronze works by Giambologna, his school and the most important masters involved in metalworking in the early 17th century, the choice of exhibits focuses on commissions either spawned by direct input from the Florentine court or associated with it. The exhibition will be focusing in particular on the figures of Giovan Battista Foggini and Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, the leading players in an in-depth renovation of Tuscan sculpture that was to become, in every way, one of the most celebrated European schools of its day. These men triggered the rebirth of bronze sculpture in Florence at the turn of the 17th century, becoming a model for the rest of Europe thanks to the spectacular creations of such Florentine masters as Giuseppe Piamontini, Giovacchino Fortini, Antonio Montauti, Agostino Cornacchini, Lorenzo Merlini, Girolamo Tacciati, Giovan Camillo Cateni and Pietro Cipriani.


Neo Rauch

Works from 2006 to 2019

curated by Max Seidel and Serena Calamai

Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini

16 October 2019 – 12 January 2020


Born in Leipzig in 1960, Neo Rauch is considered to be the leading exponent of East German painting following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Monographic exhibitions of his work have been hosted at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in Montreal and at the Albertina in Vienna but this, his first ever show in Italy, will be showcasing numerous paintings specially created by Rauch for the Andito degli Angiolini in the Pitti Palace. This 19th century space complements to perfection Rauch's poetic and often enigmatic visions, challenging the observer, dipping into figurative sources and German Romanticism and betraying the influence of Socialist Realism and of Surrealism in his penetrating exploration of the human condition.


Pietro Aretino and the Art of the Renaissance

curated by Anna Bisceglia, Matteo Ceriana and Paolo Procaccioli

Gli Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana

26 November 2019 – 3 March 2020


Roughly a hundred paintings, sculptures, examples of the applied arts, tapestries, miniatures and printed books reconstruct the world of Pietro Aretino (1492–1556), a great thinker of the 16th century. His portrait in the Galleria Palatina is one of the masterpieces of Titian, famed for his depictions of popes and emperors, no less. Pietro Aretino lived and produced his writings at a pivotal moment for Italian history and art: the age that witnessed the triumph of Michelangelo and Raphael in Rome and the dissemination throughout Europe of the culture that developed amid the pomp and splendour of the court of Popes Julius II, Leo X and Clement VII in the first three decades of the 16th century. In a word, Aretino lived in the very heart of the "modern manner", to use the term coined by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists published in two editions, one in 1550 and the other in 1568. The exhibition is broken down into five sections illustrating the main events in Aretino's life and a succession of scenarios stretching from his early days in Arezzo and Perugia to his arrival at the papal court in Rome and his move to northern Italy, first to Mantua and finally to Venice.


Heaven in a Room.

Wooden ceilings in Renaissance Florence and Rome

curated by Claudia Conforti, Maria Grazia D'Amelio, Francesca Funis and Lorenzo Grieco

Gli Uffizi, Sala Detti and Sala del Camino

10 December 2019 – 8 March 2020


The exhibition illustrates the coffered wooden ceilings known in the Renaissance as "Heavens". At once both constructional and ornamental elements of the interior space, these ceilings are a compendium of technique, art and symbolic representation, bringing Classical culture up to date in the renovation of churches and palazzi that swept Florence and Rome in the 15th and 16th centuries. The exhibition will be showcasing drawings, largely belonging to the Uffizi's own collection, illustrating ancient prototypes such as the Domus Aurea and the Temple of Bacchus in Rome; designs by the Sangallo family, Vasari and his workshop, Michelangelo, Zucchi, Maderno and others; and monumental load-bearing trusses. The exhibition will be enriched by paintings, engravings, models and genuine Renaissance lacunar panels. Interactive devices will also acquaint visitors with some of the finest and most important wooden ceilings in Rome and Florence.


At the Feet of the Gods.

Footwear from Classical times to the modern era

curated by Lorenza Camin, Caterina Chiarelli and Fabrizio Paolucci

Palazzo Pitti, Museo della Moda e del Costume

16 December 2019 – 19 April 2020

The exhibition explores the history, social role and symbolic value of footwear from Classical times to the modern era. 

In the Greek world, for example, thickness of sole, colour and adornment were features that allowed people to identify the wearer's status. The exhibition illustrates the main types of footwear in use in the 5th and 4th centuries BC with finds from archaeological digs in northern Europe, while depictions on reliefs, figured vases and statues fill out and expand on the archaeological evidence. Complementing this main section, a special section explores the story of ancient footwear in 20th century culture through two complementary channels: fashion and the cinema. Shoes by some of the last century's leading Italian designers are displayed alongside models by Pompei Shoes, Italy's most celebrated manufacturer of footwear for the cinema, from such epic "sword-and-sandal" movies as Cleopatra, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur and The Gladiator.


The Legend Rediscovered

Comparing the Niobids from the Horti Lamiani and the Villa of Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus

curated by Alessandro Betori, Sergio del Ferro and Fabrizio Paolucci

Gli Uffizi, Sala della Niobe

18 dicembre 2019 – 15 marzo 2020


In 2013, exactly 430 years after the discovery of thirteen statues comprising a group of Niobids not far from the cathedral church of St. John Lateran in Rome, seven sculptures depicting the same legend were found in the remains of what was, in all likelihood, Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus's villa close to what is now Ciampino, familiar as the home of Rome's second airport. The statues, set around the edge of pools, display the traditional link between their subject and the decoration of grandiose nymphaea such as the Horti Lamiani, where the sculptures now in the Uffizi were unearthed in 1583. This unique opportunity to compare the Ciampino statues with those from the Medici collection will serve to illustrate one of the key themes of imperial propaganda in the age of Augustus, the myth of Niobe's punishment, and its use in the decoration of the gardens and villas of the nobility. Modern archaeological research will make it possible to shed further light on a discovery four centuries old, while the Medici statues will complete the Ciampino series with the types and models it lacks, thus echoing the kaleidoscopic sculptural grandeur of the settings in which ancient Roman patricians enjoyed their leisure.


‘The Greatness of the Universe' in the art of Giovanna Garzoni

curated by Sheila Barker

Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini

6 March – 7 June 2020


While her role in the evolution of scientific illustration is widely acknowledged, Giovanna Garzoni is less familiar as an illustrator of geographical fantasy in the age of the Baroque. In harmonic and often relatively small compositions, the painter combines exotic objects of extremely varied provenance such as Chinese porcelain, Pacific nautili, Mexican marrows and flowers, South American plants and English lapdogs, in an effort both to astonish and to amuse.  

Turning her back on the conventional role reserved for women in her day, Garzoni travelled in Italy, and possibly also in France, gaining access to the most important collections of curios of her era. The exhibition showcases her works collected by the Medici and still owned by the Gallerie degli Uffizi, alongside targeted loans illustrating the artist's field of action and her prowess as a portraitist. On the basis of a previously untapped inventory, a section of the exhibition reconstructs Vittoria della Rovere's Wunderkammer, once hosted in the Sala dell'Aurora in the villa of Poggio Imperiale, thus indirectly shedding light also on a leading member of the grand ducal family.


Stories of Painted Pages

Manuscripts and illuminations recovered by the Florentine Cultural Heritage Protection Unit

curated by Sonia Chiodo

Palazzo Pitti, Sala delle Nicchie

21 March – 23 June 2020


Ancient illuminated manuscripts and pages and illuminations cut out of their original volumes from Italy's numerous religious institutions, stolen and subsequently recovered by the Heritage Protection Unit, celebrate the tremendous task performed over the years by the Carabinieri's art sleuths, focusing visitors' attention on the extreme fragility of our art historical heritage and on the need for protection and proper conservation. The exhibition presents a number of exemplary "case studies" revealing the various methods adopted to reconstruct the history of such items, which have often been tampered with in an attempt to facilitate their sale on the black market. The items can often be traced back to their original physical and geographical context relying on sometimes minimal clues while making optimal use of interdisciplinary expertise. 

In addition to explaining the features peculiar to this group of codices in relation to the history of illumination, the exhibition shines the spotlight on the pages recovered to date and, where relevant, also on those that have yet to be found.


Giuseppe Bezzuoli (1789–1855)

A master painter of the Romantic era

curated by Vanessa Gavioli, Elena Marconi and Ettore Spalletti

Gli Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana and Sala Detti

2 April – 31 July 2020


This is the first monographic exhibition ever devoted to Giuseppe Bezzuoli, an absolute protagonist of 19th century painting.  Starting with his early work in the Neoclassical style, the exhibition goes on to explore his mature period with masterpieces that may justifiably be given pride of place in the history great Italian Romantic painting: one has but to think of The Entry of Charles VIII into Florence, The Repudiation of Hagar, Eve Tempted by the Serpent (recently acquired by the Gallerie degli Uffizi) or his large portraits of the bourgeoisie.

The exhibition will also allow visitors to compare Bezzuoli's art with the work of masters of the calibre of Francesco Hayez and Massimo D'Azeglio, as well as with that of such leading exponents of cosmopolitan culture in early 19th century Florence as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Sir Thomas Lawrence with their magnificent portraits.  The sculptures of Horatio Greenough and Hiram Powers, together with the landscapes of Thomas Cole, will be displayed in a special section devoted to the young American artists who attended Giuseppe Bezzuoli's courses at the city's Accademia di Belle Arti, where one of his most celebrated pupils was the future Macchaiolo Giovanni Fattori.


Hierapolis, Lady of the Nymphs.

The legend and the reality of an Asian city.

curated by Francesco D'Andria, Grazia Semeraro, Ilaria Romeo and

Fabrizio Paolucci

Boboli Garden, Limonaia Grande

26 May – 18 October 2020


The exhibition sets out to acquaint visitors with the city of Hierapolis, its art, its social and religious history and its monuments, thanks to a broad selection of items held chiefly in the Archaeological Museum in Pamukkale (Denizli), in the Italian Archaeological Mission's warehouses and in a number of museums in Italy and in other European countries. The original material will be accompanied by illustrative panels, graphic and virtual reconstructions, models and reproductions of objects and buildings.

The city's artistic output will be illustrated by exhibits from its necropolis and from its chief monumental complexes.

Evocative virtual reconstructions and graphic visualisations will guide visitors on their discovery of its most important monuments such as the sanctuary of Apollo, the theatre, the nymphaea and the public baths which were the major centres of social interaction in the community.

It will thus be possible to create a dialogue among the exhibits, reconstructing itineraries, relationships and social exchange while also defining the layout and features of the city of Hierapolis against the broader background of the Roman and Byzantine Empires.





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