|Chardin's Boy Building a House of Cards, 1735, now displayed in the Foreign Artists' Gallery at the Uffizi|
This historic gallery started life as a commission by Cosimo I de' Medici to house the Florentine magistrates' courts and administrative offices as well as the state archive. It was called the Uffizi, the offices, for that reason, and it was in effect the hub of the Medici power structure.
|'...risks evoking an infirmary'? Some infirmary. The walls are white, the door frames and skirting boards or balze (which in Tuscany are painted, not in wood) grey, and the floor tiles grey and white|
|The Tribuna as it is today, still in red and still displaying some of the original works|
|Filippo Lippi: Madonna with Child and Two Angels, 1465|
|Michelangelo's Tondo Doni or Holy Family is now backed by a light crimson which contrasts with and picks up the colours of the fabrics in the painting. But this is not a fashion show!|
More difficult to understand is the choice of a hard azure blue in the new Foreign Artists' Studios. Why azure blue should represent the foreign artists is a mystery. On the Uffizi's official website the director writes: "...I asked that a more vibrant, or frankly bright, colour be taken into consideration...the choice fell on blue which in terms of culture and taste appeared to be best suited to the works for which these rooms have been conceived."
|Frans Van Mieris the Elder, Elderly Couple at a Table, 1650-55|
|Gentile da Fabriano's magnificent Adoration of the Magi, 1423 now placed before a discreetly coloured wall|
|Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano, (detail) 1435-60 placed against classic, plain white|
|The white marble of this Roman sculpture of Apollo Playing the Cithar undoubtedly benefits from being set against a deep Pompeian red|
|Raffaelo Sanzio's self-portrait, 1504-6|
|Tiziano's Flora, 1515-17|
|Caravaggio's Bacchus, 1596-7|
|Jean-Etienne Liotard, Portrait of Marie Adelaide of France Dressed in the Turkish Style, 1753|
In the future it will be interesting to hear what the newly-chosen director of the Uffizi, the German art historian Eike Schmidt, will have to say about his gallery's colour schemes.
*Apologies for the quality of the images: digital photography of interiors has its limits and the colour reproduction and definition is at times poor, notably in the coloured wall examples and certainly does not do the art, nor its backdrop, justice.