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All the monsters in the ceilings of the Uffizi

A book tells for the first time the ‘grotesques’, the frescoes with fantasy characters painted on the bays of the gallery

Tens of thousands of monsters, including legendary creatures, mythological beings, fantastic animals, nightmarish masks, inhabit the ceilings of the Uffizi: they are the protagonists of the grotesques that adorn the vaults of the corridor on the first floor of the famous gallery, tens of bays for hundreds and hundreds of square meters of frescoes.

The museum’s “grotesque” decorations, carried out in the second half of the 16th century (the first corridor of the Uffizi Gallery, on the east side of the first floor, was painted between 1579 and 1581 by Antonio Tempesta, initially, then by Alessandro Allori and his workshop) recovered traits and stylistic features from Roman antiquity: the subjects of the frescoes are apparently elusive, but rich in complex symbols and curious episodes, protagonists of which are funny, bizarre, monstrous and grotesque figures. All of this, however, is depicted with great rigour and compositional and geometric balance. For the first time, the history, genesis and technique of these evocative and mysterious paintings, very popular in the Renaissance, is told in a book, ‘The Grotesques of the Uffizi’. (Giunti , 416 pages): edited by the scholar Valentina Conticelli with a contribution by Francesca De Luca, the volume, rich in details and unpublished images in large format, traces the history of the decoration of the architectural complex and reveals the secret meanings of each span, leading the reader into an imaginary world, suspended between reality and mythology. Le Grottesche degli Uffizi’ will be presented on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in the Vasari auditorium of the Gallery: in addition to the author, the meeting will be attended by the director of the Eike Schmidt complex, the former minister of Cultural Heritage and former director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci and the art historian Sonia Maffei.

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