A new experience of visiting the Uffizi
A visit to the Uffizi Gallery now becomes a more complete experience thanks to the new layout of the Rooms dedicated to the sixteenth century Veneto’s painters. It is a nucleus of works – those of the Florentine museum – which, as rightly mentioned in Finestre sull’Arte, is one of the most important in the world and which for too long has remained divided, dismembered between visible works and others – many – kept in warehouses. At last, the opening of the new rooms gives the Veneto’s painters of the Uffizi new dignity and an unprecedented visibility, never appreciated so far.
A new background colour
The green that is now the background is a beautiful, intense color, a color for a painting made purely and primarily of color. In addition to the already permanent works exhibited, such as Titian’s Venus of Urbino, there is now finally space to appreciate those paintings that had been preserved in the deposits, such as the beautiful Martyrdom of Santa Giustina, a work by the great Paolo Veronese.
Paolo Caliari, known as il Veronese, had returned with his “iridescent” palette the glorious image of mid-sixteenth-century Venice, where he was the undisputed protagonist. In this small canvas, he represents the martyrdom of Santa Giustina, a Paduan martyr killed during Diocletian’s persecutions.
Martyrdom of Santa Giustina, P. Veronese, 1570-75, Uffizi Gallery
A ‛non-dramatic’ scene
With the exception of the pathetically suffering face of the saint, nothing here appears to us to be truly dramatic; Veronese cancels every perception of the gravity of the event, thanks above all to the painter’s ability to transform “into a sunny and festive joy any subject”, even a martyrdom.
The drama therefore seems absent in this scene, although it is not without a significant theatricality: the figures, represented with a view from below upwards – an angle that was typical of the Veronese style – occupy the stage. Their acting is courtly, solemn, an impression that is further emphasised by an architectural backdrop that reminds us of the classicism of Palladian buildings. Giustina, the protagonist of this theatrical drama, is dressed in the fashion of contemporary Venetian noblewomen; his is a dress with precious fabrics and iridescent colours. The knife that just pierces the sensual and candid chest of the woman seems to be only a special cinematic effect.
Like on a theatre stage
When you look at this painting, passing through the corridor that now connects the new rooms of the Uffizi, you have the feeling of peeking at one of the trapdoors on the stage, while the actors on the stage are playing the drama and we are the fortuitous spectators of this a colourful world that, unexpectedly, opened up before our eyes with all its triumph of luminous suggestions, bright colours and seductive poses.
Don’t delay to visit these new rooms, the show has already begun!