The dramatic new color of the walls in Room No.35 of the Uffizi Museum in Florence. This room is one of the first to get a facelift after the gorgeous renovation of the famous Tribune and, hopefully, not the last. Walking through the many other spaces of the museum with their (now by comparison) drab walls is, admittedly, not quite the same since this room got its upgrade.
So what’s so special about Room No. 35? Well, it just happens to be home to one of the Uffizi’s most important works: the only finished panel painting by Michelangelo, known as the Doni Tondo (seen at the back of the room in the above photo). Keeping company with this stunning work is the eye-catching Roman sculpture of Ariadne that only recently made its way into the Uffizi collection (technically, a permanent loan from the Archaeological Museum). In its original 16th century form, the Uffizi was known as the home to endless sculptures more so than painting. Today, however, we associate this world-famous museum almost exclusively with painted works. With the addition of the Ariadne, 35 is one of the few rooms that now combines sculpture and painting in one space. Hence, the new display style more closely reflects the museum’s original concept: a place where artists flocked to study the works of ancient sculpture to carve copies or, often, to use the unique poses and gestures in their paintings.
In room No.35, this idea is played on beautifully with the Doni Tondo and Ariadne. The pose of the sleeping woman plays off the gesture made by Mary in Michelangelo’s painting directly behind her. It is believed Michelangelo may have seen this ancient work and was perhaps influenced by it as well. One is immediately struck by her strong and sturdy build that feels very Michelangelesque. Besides this thematic tie, the addition of the sculpture also enhances the general appearance of the space and helps the flow of traffic. Crowds are conveniently forced around the outside of the room instead of the problematic “high-tailing” straight to the Michelangelo that frequently happened in the old Room No.35.
The works on the walls, while not as obviously thematically linked to the Doni Tondo, are examples of contemporary artists within Michelangelo’s circle of influence. For a thorough explanation of each, I refer you to this excellent article on Art Trav with insightful comments by the Blogger from 3 Pipe Problem.