If something you won’t be able to avoid seeing in Florence is the famous masterpieces. Florence is, as you already know, the cradle of the Renaissance and art. Many famous people were born or worked in this Tuscan city and their traces are still visible.
Among many galleries, museums and churches it’s possible to get fed up with art. Yes! Incredible as it seems, especially if art… well, is frankly not your thing. I love it, but after much walking the galleries my feet hurt and my brain was not able to grasp all the beauty anymore. Actually, there’s a condition related to this (not kidding), it’s called the Stendhal Syndrome.
That’s why I’ve made this list of 12 of the famous masterpieces that you should not miss in Florence. There are many more and it was difficult to choose, but these are some of the most famous and/or my favorites.
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12 famous masterpieces in Florence
This famous sculpture made by Michelangelo Buonarroti is a celebrity in Florence. Michelangelo made it from a piece of marble that had been abandoned 25 years ago. He made it between 1501 and 1504 and its height is 5.17 meters.
Its original location was in Piazza Signoria in front of Palazzo Vecchio. It was moved in 1873 to its current location in the Accademia Gallery to protect it from the weather. Still, it has suffered many damages including a hammer blow to the left foot given by a psychopath on 1991.
The Birth of Venus
La Nascita di Venere by Sandro Botticelli is one of the most beautiful famous masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery. It is large and one of the works that I was most excited to see. Its soft strokes and colors and the sweetness in the Venus’ face make this work a delight for the eyes.
they don’t know the exact date of completion but they believe it was between the years 1482 and 1484. The model chosen to play the Venus was a woman named Simonetta Cattaneo, a popular muse among artists of the time. Sandro Botticelli is one of the most representative painters of the Italian Renaissance.
Here you can know some of The most popular palaces and museums in Florence to plan your trip.
The only painting made by Michelangelo Buonarroti in Florence is the Tondo Doni. It’s another of the famous masterpieces that attract more tourists in the Ufizzi Gallery. It’s also the only panel painting attributed without a doubt to Michelangelo.
Agnolo Doni commisioned it to commemorate his marriage to Maddalena Strozzi. The painting has a circular shape (hence the name of Tondo, “circle”), a shape associated with marriage and domestic affairs. Its peculiar frame is the original, possibly also designed by Michelangelo.
The scene is a sacred family, with the presence of John the Baptist and 5 naked male figures in the background. Some say that these figures are angels and others say they represent paganism.
I like the vibrant colors of this painting and the glow of the fabric. Although I’m not a big fan of the strong musculature so common in Michelangelo’s paintings. They say that this is because he always used male models.
on the official site of the Uffizi Gallery, you can find more information about the collection and ticket prices.
Another of the famous masterpieces made by Sandro Botticelli that you should not miss is La Primavera. Luckily, it’s in the same room as the Birth of Venus, so you can’t ignore it.
It’s a scene in which the central figure is again the goddess Venus. Other Greek mythology’s characters appear like Cupid and the 3 Graces on the left side. Cephiro, the god of the wind, appears holding the nymph Cloris next to Flora who scatters roses. On the far left the god Mercury.
What I like about the painting is the delicacy of the females like the position of the Graces’ hands. Also attracts the attention the sweet face of the nymph Flora. This painting was made between 1480 and 1481. It belonged to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici
Medusa is one of my favorites of the famous masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery. Its creator was Miguelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, a baroque painter, also among my favorites. He painted it in 1597 on a canvas attached to a wood board in the shape of a tondo (circle).
I like Caravaggio’s dramatic, almost wild, style, as well as his handling of dark and light. In this work, you can see the head of Medusa, cut, with blood on the neck and with a screaming expression on his face. It is believed that the face is that of Caravaggio himself.
If you like art, check out this post about Top 10 Art Museums in Europe you must visit
Another of the sculptures of great beauty by Michelangelo Buonarroti is Pietá. You can see it in the Opera Duomo Museum. It’s also known as Pietá Bandini, to differentiate it from the Pietá in the Vatican. He sculpted it around 1550 in Rome and measures more than 2 meters in height.
Originally Michelangelo made it with the intention of placing it in his grave in Rome when he died. But he changed his mind and sold it to Francesco Bandini. Michelangelo tried to destroy it when he discovered a crack in the marble and when a part of the virgin’s arm got broken. His servant avoided that he destroys it completely. Although it’s still possible to see some breaks in parts of the Christ and the fingers of the virgin.
The Annunciation is one of the few paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci that we can see in Florence. In fact, in the beginning, they thought it was a painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Later, the experts concluded that it was the work of a young Da Vinci and his teacher Verrocchio.
Its realization was around the years 1472 and 1475. The scene shows the Virgin Mary receiving the visit of the angel Gabriel to notify her of her pregnancy. Since 1867 it’s exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery.
David by Donatello
Donatello’s David is one of the most important famous masterpieces of the first Renaissance. He sculpted it around the year 1440 by order of Cosme de Medici to decorate his gardens.
It represents King David after defeating the giant Goliath. It was the first time that someone created a male nude since classical antiquity. It’s possible to see this bronze sculpture in the Bargello museum.
La Donna Velata
The Veiled Lady or Donna Velata is one of the famous masterpieces featured in the Palatine Gallery. It was painted by the artist Raphael Sanzio around 1515. It is believed that the woman in the portrait was Margherita Lutti, Raphael’s mistress. They also knew her as la Fornarina for being the daughter of a baker. She was Raphael’s model in other paintings as well.
Madonna Della Seggiola
The Madonna Della Seggiola is a beautiful painting by Raphael. It’s another of the famous masterpieces painted in a circular shape. It’s housed and exhibited in the Palatine Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, a must-see in Florence.
The painting is dated between 1513 and 1514. It depicts the Virgin Mary embracing the baby Jesus and next to them a young John the Baptist watches them. They say that Raphael once saw a beautiful peasant girl with her son in her arms. Not having his tools with him he made a sketch in charcoal, which would help him to later create this painting.
The painting is very beautiful. In particular, I like the outfit of the Virgin, which is probably what the young peasant woman had been wearing.
In the year 1453 Donatello was commissioned to make a sculpture of Mary Magdalene for the Baptistery of St. John in Florence
Donatello presents a Mary Magdalene hermit, in spiritual retreat to redeem her sins. She is already in a mature age, emaciated and with an expression of suffering. She has sunken eyes, and a bony face and hands. It’s not a beautiful (in the common sense of the word) or happy work, but it will not leave you indifferent.
It’s a sculpture made of wood and one of the famous masterpieces that you can see in the Opera Duomo Museum
The Venus of Urbino is a painting by master Titian Vecellio, a great exponent of the Venetian school. he painted it between 1532 and 1534 but sold it until 1538 to the Duke of Urbino.
It represents a naked woman reclining on a sofa or bed that has been associated with the goddess Venus. Yet, critics have said that the domestic scene makes you think of an earthly woman
The painting is in the Uffizi Gallery in which it has been since 1736.
Here ends the list of my favorite famous masterpieces in Florence. Do you like art? Did you already know these works? Which one did you like the most? I await your comments in the box below ⇓⇓
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