A prized collection of Russian paintings has a new home in the Uffizi Galleries in Italy, the palace where they once hung centuries ago.
In order to broaden its offer, the Florentine institution inaugurated the “Museum of Russian Icons”, a permanent exhibition of 78 religious paintings from the 16th to the 18th century.
The exhibition is now presented in four galleries of Palazzo Pitti, an ornate palace from which the Medici family once ruled Tuscany. The exhibition marks the first time that the rooms, lined with recently restored 17th-century frescoes, have been open to the public.
The exhibition “responds to today’s need to broaden the cultural offer for an increasingly heterogeneous audience eager to explore lesser-known contexts,” said Uffizi curator Daniela Parenti.
Considered to be the oldest collection of its kind outside of Russia, the set of paintings was collected, initially, by the Grand Dukes of the Medici, first appearing in an inventory of family property in the early years. 1600. The next time the collection appeared in the archives was in 1761, when the elder branch of the Medici family died out and the House of Lorraine took control of Tuscany and the palace. Pitti.
It was during this later stage that the majority of the works of art entered the collection, in large part thanks to Emperor Francis I. The paintings have not been exhibited to the public since the 18th century, but preserved, largely due to their size. from Uffizi collection.
Among the most notable inclusions in the collection is a two-fold Menologio, a calendar of Orthodox religious holidays that depicts over 100 miniature scenes. There is also a 1728 painting by Russian artist Vasily Gryaznov, the only copy in the group with a known author.
A number of icons were painted by unidentified artists associated with the Russian tsars of the day and were sent directly from the Kremlin in Tuscany, according to the museum.
“The proximity of Russian icons in the Palatine Chapel becomes a metaphor for a confessional bridge between Orthodox and Catholics which recalls the common spiritual roots and the frequent cultural exchanges between Italy and Russia which have taken place over the centuries and persist again, ”added the Uffizi Gallery. director Eike Schmidt in a statement.
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