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Johan Joseph Zoffany (Frankfurt 1733-London 1810)

The Tribuna of the Uffizi 1772-77

Oil on canvas | 123.5 x 155.0 cm | RCIN 406983

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In the summer of 1772 Zoffany set off for Florence with £300, letters of introduction and a commission from the Queen to paint highlights of the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s collection shown within the Tribuna of the Uffizi Palace. 

Zoffany’s viewpoint is slightly behind the centre of the room: (the central octagon of the floor pattern appears in the foreground). His field of vision includes a little less then three of the eight sections of the octagon, which would mean an angle of around 90 degrees. If he had carried this perspective through to its logical conclusion he would only have caught two of the four major sculptural groups placed in front of each alternate wall, instead of the four visible here. Moreover, almost all the objects and figures within the room, especially those in the foreground, should appear significantly larger than they do here: clearly if he had followed a geometrically literal regime he would never have been able to fit in so much or to have made so many interesting and intelligible groups. Instead, he has treated the ‘floor-show’ differently, adopting a perspective as if set in a cut-away model of the space, like a stage, and viewed from some way back in the auditorium. Evidently this aspect of the painting was also criticised: according to Horace Mann ‘they found great fault in the perspective which, they say, is all wrong. I know that he was sensible of it himself, and tried to get assistance to correct it; but it was found impossible, and he carried it away as it was’ (letter to Horace Walpole, 10 December 1779).

  • Creator(s)

    Johan Joseph Zoffany (Frankfurt 1733-London 1810) (artist)

  • WINDSOR CASTLE INVENTORY 1872 NoNo 349

  • 123.5 x 155.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    157.7 x 183.2 x 11.1 cm (frame, external)

  • Interior of the Florence Gallery

    The Interior of the Grand Duke's Gallery at Florence.

  • Commissioned by Queen Charlotte

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