BARCELONA.- This exhibition brings an extraordinary collection of Italian art from the treasures of Florences Uffizi Gallery to Barcelona for the first time. 45 masterpieces created between the XV and XVII centuries, with highlights including paintings by Botticelli, Luca Signorelli, Parmiginianino, Luca Giordano and Cristofano Allori, among others. These are pieces of outstanding quality, which are not usually found in exhibitions and which have been gathered together especially for this show. The exhibition takes you on a journey through Western spirituality, through the different stages of the Old and New Testaments: the original sin, the annunciation of the Saviours arrival, the Last Supper, the Lords death and resurrection.
Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates hence the name "uffizi" ("offices"). Construction was continued to Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. The cortile is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand.
The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francesco I, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour.
Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Lodovica, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.
Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence for example, some famous statues, to the Bargello. A project is currently underway to expand the museum's exhibition space by 2006 from some 6,000 metres² (64,000 ft²) to almost 13,000 metres² (139,000 ft²), allowing public viewing of many artworks that have usually been in storage.