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March 19, 2010

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Medici masterpieces in rare Shanghai display

RENOVATIONS at a famed Florentine art gallery have provided a unique opportunity for some fabulous artworks to find a temporary exhibition home in Shanghai, Wang Jie reports.

The Uffizi Gallery - with its timeless links to the Medicis - is a must-see destination for art lovers in the Italian city of Florence.

But for the next couple of months a trip to Europe won't be needed because 82 works from the gallery are on display at the Shanghai Museum until June 6.

The Uffizi is synonymous with the Medici dynasty which for over three centuries controlled the destiny of Florence and created its art legacy.

The gallery was built in 1581 and initially was used as the base for the Medici family whose creative passion turned it "a mine of art."

Today the Uffizi has an extensive collection of 4,500 canvases and sculptures, including masterpieces created by Michelangelo Buonarroti, Sandro Boticelli, Raphael Sanzio and Tiziano Vecellio.

"The artwork selected for this exhibition is divided into landscapes, still lifes and portraits," says Chen Xiejun, curator of the Shanghai Museum.

"I am sure that local visitors will value the opportunity to experience in Shanghai the classical beauty of Western painting."

According to Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery, the venue in Florence is now under renovation for further expansion.

"For this reason, we are able to tour an exhibition of some of the collection to Shanghai," Natali says. "In fact, after the completion of the renovation, it would be very hard for such a big collection to be sent overseas by the gallery."

But the Uffizi's space predicament is a bonus for Shanghai art lovers who can sample at home the fine specimens created by outstanding names in art history.

The spotlight of the exhibition is Vecellio's "Venus, Jupiter, Dog and Partridge" that was created in 1550.

It depicts the naked Venus with pearl necklace lounging casually on a bed with Jupiter clasping her. The dog and partridge which appear in the background are said to imply desire and procreation.

Historians believe the genesis for the painting originated from Michelangelo's "Venus and Jupiter."

The exhibition also includes a series of portraits. Starting in the 15th century, portraiture was an art form that started to evolve in European society.

Initially only emperors or highly ranked religious officials were considered eligible for portraits.

But gradually the privilege extended to the wealthy in the upper-levels of society.

Although the identity of some of the characters in the portraits have been long forgotten, they silently stare down from the canvas, captured in a place and time that is immortalized by the artists.

Date: through June 6,


Venue: Shanghai Museum, 100 People's Ave

Tel: 6327-2829


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