An Adventure for Art Lovers

Posted by on May 7, 2013 | No Comments

There are so many highlights from Season 3 – Here’s a post for art lovers, about our adventure in Italy shooting our episode Inside the Uffizi Gallery.

Looking at the Stories and History Behind Great Art

On our shoot in Florence, Italy, for our Uffizi Gallery episode, we were able to take a tour of the entire museum on Monday, when it was closed to the public. All was quiet and beautiful, and the light shone in through the large windows facing the Arno River that bisects the bustling historic tourist centre, which some locals call a ‘living museum’. It was here at the Uffizi where we sought out the many beautiful artistic treasures we had researched prior to arriving at the renowned museum.

Uffizi Gallery, empty

We discovered secrets about Caravaggio’s death and looked at some of his morbid and fascinatingly dark paintings, like the haunting Medusa Birthing Shield, which he painted in 1597.

Medusa by Caravaggio

We got exclusive access to the magnificent octagonal Tribuna Room, which had just undergone a complete restoration and was still off limits to the public at the time. It was there that we learned about the origin of the Tribuna Room, which was commissioned in 1584 by Duke Francesco I.  In fact, this towering room at the heart of the Uffizi was where Francesco began displaying great works of art from his family’s famous art collection, and this is what kick-started the Uffizi’s life as a museum.

Tribuna Room

Inside the Tribuna Room today there stand many impressive sculptures, including one called The Wrestlers which shows ferverent violence in its depiction of two muscular naked men locked in a deadly combat. For our Uffizi Gallery episode we investigated the secrets of the martial art depicted in this ancient Greek sculpture from the 3rd Century BC.

The Wrestlers

In the Vasari Corridor, we discovered who saved the corridor and the Ponte Vecchio from destruction during WWII, when all of the other bridges were destroyed and much of Florence’s art was under threat from the Nazi occupation.  In this narrow hallway, there are hundreds of portraits by some great Renaissance painters, all ordered chronologically from one end of the hallway to the other. It’s almost like a vortex through time as you walk through, seeing who is there, and noting which artists have painted self-portraits! Rembrandt and Velazquez are there among them. The corridor was built to be the largest collection of self-portraits in the world by the Medicis, the ruling family of the Italian Renaissance period.

Watch our video with historian Lee Windsor, as he discusses the importance of the bridges in Florence during the war, especially when food was essential to keeping people alive and fighting against the Nazis.

Food certainly is one of the most beautiful things in Italy, because it not only looks magnificent, but can be like an artform for discerning chefs and foodies — and Italian culinary secrets also have great connections to history too. [Look for our blog post coming soon about our best foodie moments from Season 3.]

iced lemon

Aside from the amazing culinary delights with beautiful presentation on offer in Florence, throughout the museum there are also the most beautiful works of art from the Florentine Renaissance period; as well as magnificent stone and marble sculptures throughout the galleries and outside on the museum grounds.

Painting at Uffizi

Shooting at Uffizi

One very interesting thing we discovered is that the sculptures at the museum have to go to the ‘spa’ too! You might be surprised to know that these historic beauties undergo cleaning treatment with modern laser technology as well as 3D image mapping software. To see the process and hear what it entails from curators, watch our video!

All of the amazing art in the city serves as a real inspiration to students of art who flock to Florence to be in a city steeped in history and ingrained with art everywhere. We visited an authentic Renaissance art school to hear what the director and some students had to say about why studying art in Florence is so inspiring.

Stay tuned to our blog for more in our series of Highlights from Season 3!