Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Autoritratto 1655 ca. ©Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

From the 27th of  November 2010 to the 2oth of February 2011 – National Museum of Art – Osaka

This exhibition marks the first time that works from the self-portrait collection of the Uffizi Gallery have been presented in Japan.
Meaning “office” in Italian, the Uffizi, the oldest art museum in the modern Western world, was established by the second Grand Duke of Tuscany Francesco I de’ Medici in 1581 in a complex of government offices in order to display the Medici family collection. As patrons of the arts who were instrumental in fostering the Renaissance, the Medicis were famous for the masterpieces they amassed, but the self-portrait collection started by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici, the fifth Grand Duke, in 1664, played an especially important role in helping to maintain the glory of Florence after it became a powerful, absolutist state in the 17th century. Moreover, by continuing to pursue a policy of acquiring portraits of famous artists from each historical period, the size of the collection, now exceeding 1,700 works, remains unparalleled in the world.

Today, a portion of the collection is on display in the Vasari Corridor, which runs from the Uffizi along the Ponte Vecchio, a popular tourist attraction, to the Palazzo Pitti on the opposite bank of the Arno River. Despite having been designated as a World Heritage Site as part of central Florence (which also contains the Uffizi), the corridor, constructed by the first Grand Duke of Tuscany to allow passage between government offices and his private residence, is generally not open to the public due to its delicate architectural structure.

For this exhibition,  70 works have been selected from the Uffizi’s “treasure house” of self-portraits by distinguished masters. Dating from the 16th century to the present and including paintings by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Annibale Carracci, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a great opportunity to see the faces of the artists that are usually concealed within their works.

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