is showing a collection of art works entitled 'Volti svelati' ('Faces Revealed') in the Reali Poste Hall, until 29 January 2012. This exhibition is sponsored by the Friends of the Uffizi, an association which has supported and worked alongside the gallery since 1993.
The exhibition has been put together by the Uffizi Gallery with the help of the Special Office for Historic, Artistic and Anthrolpological Heritage and the City of Florence Museums Association.
The exhibition contains a number of classical sculptures from the collections of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The exhibition supervisor, Cristina Acidini said 'The exhibition sheds light on an extraordinary part of the history of museum studies as it highlights the rather topical and sometimes burning issue of the 'use' of ancient artefacts in museums and galleries. The Uffizi and other places displaying Classical art, including villas, gardens, private family collections and smaller museums and galleries, are all places where these busts and sculptures have been on display in one way or another.'
From the end of the sixteenth century, the corridors on the second floor of the Uffizi's famous Vasari area were home to wonderful Medici marble sculptures. This collection is unique in Europe both in terms of quantity and quality and is the reason why the Uffizi was recognised as 'Galleria delle Statue' ('Statues Gallery'). The Volti Svelati exhibition highlights the gallery's impressive collection of Classical art with a selection of paintings from both the Republican and Imperial eras. The works of art on display are those most often mentioned in every guide to Roman art and span a time period beginning in the late Republican era. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see a series of portraits of emperors, athletes, private citizens and intellectuals which underline the evolution of portrait painting, fashions and ideologies over three and a half centuries of history.
The works of art coming out of storage for the exhibition include 44 busts which make up a series entitled 'Cesari in marmo' ('Marble Caesars'), as well as one of the best collections of Classical portraits ever seen in the Uffizi.
From the end of the fifteenth century, the Medici family became avid collectors of the effigies of famous Romans. For example, there are the two marble busts of Augustus and Agrippa which were acquired by Lorenzo de' Medici on his return from Rome in 1471. These busts were the beginning of a collection that was set to grow over the next two centuries. When, in 1780, Abbot Luigi Lanzi was given the job of writing a report on the new set up of the Uffizi Gallery, under the command of Pietro Leopoldo, he didn't hesitate in defining the portrait collection as the jewel in the gallery's crown and second only to the collections in the capital.
Abbot Lanzi was also responsible for helping to increase the Gallery's collections by acquiring beautiful works of art from private Florentine collections, including marble sculptures from the villas of the Grand Duchy and Villa Medici in Rome. After two long years' work, the collection came to number 110 pieces, rather than the original 70, and rivalled the collections in the capital. In his book about the Gallery, 'La Real Galleria di Firenze', published in 1782, Abbot Lanzi showed his satisfaction at having been responsible for creating a collection of Roman portraits unrivalled throughout Europe.
The following centuries saw many changes to the 'museum' set up by Abbot Lanzi. At the end of the 1990s, it was decided to re-organise the corridors according to mid-eighteenth century schetches by De Greyss. Many portraits were put into storage alongisde numerous busts gathered from Grand Ducal villas. This exhibition aims not only to shed light on these 'forgotten' works of art, but also to highlight how important and highly considered they were in Europe between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. The portraits that make up the exhibition are tangible proof of the passion that existed for Clasical civilisation within Western society. The exhibition includes paintings specifically chosen from Italian and foreign collections which bring this passion for ancient culture to life.
The curators are Fabrizio Paolucci, director of the Uffizi Classical Antiquities Department, and Valentina Conticelli, director of the Uffizi Eighteenth Century Art Department.