The Uffizi Galleries in Florence have launched a new online exhibition to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri. It will showcase dozens of illustrations created in the sixteenth century to showcase The Divine Comedy.
The virtual exhibition “A riveder le stelle” offers a look at 88 pieces created by Federico Zuccari in the late sixteenth century, which are now available in high definition. They are considered to be the most impressive collection of illustrations created for Dante’s medieval masterpiece until the nineteenth century.
Created between 1586 and 1588, during Zuccari’s stay in Spain, the entire collection entered the Uffizi collection in 1738, thanks to the donation of Anna Maria Luisa de Medici. Since then it has been kept in the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, and only been partially shown to the public only on two occasions. Apart from these episodes, Zuccari’s drawings have remained mostly known to a limited audience of scholars and enthusiasts: in fact, like all works on paper, they are normally kept in protected, thermoregulated, lightless environments and can (except for limited study needs) be exposed only every five years. This is also the origin of the choice of the Uffizi to digitize in its entirety, making it available to all, this substantial nucleus of sheets physically fragile and by its nature not suitable for regular consultation.
The path illustrated by Zuccari, who with his brother Taddeo was a leading exponent of late Italian Mannerism, unfolds from the dark forest in which Dante loses the “straight way” to the higher spheres of Paradise, in a complex game of cross-references between words and images. The sheets were in fact formerly bound in a volume: opening it, the illustration on the right page corresponded, on the left, to the transcription of the verses of the poem and a brief comment by the artist himself.
“So far these beautiful drawings have been seen by few scholars and exposed to the public only twice and only in part,” says Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries. “Today they are published in full and with a didactic-scientific comment on the Uffizi website, where from now on they will be freely available. It is a real pride for the Galleries to open the 700th anniversary of the death of the great poet by making this extraordinary collection of graphic art available to everyone. Precious material not only for those who do research but also for those who are passionate about Dante’s work and are interested in going into it to follow, as Alighieri says, virtue and knowledge.”
The Uffizi is also hoping to have an in-person exhibition to commemorate Dante Alighieri, who lived from 1265 to 1321 and is considered one of the great poets and writers in Italian history. Dante: The vision of art is due to be held in the San Domenico Museums complex between March and July.