logo Museo Galileo - Institute and Museum of the History of Science
  • Fresco scene depicting a water-wheel, Stanzino delle Matematiche, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.zoom in altra finestra
  • Detail of the ceiling of the Stanzino delle Matematiche depicting the allegory of mathematics, Stanzino delle Matematiche, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.zoom in altra finestra

Galleria degli Uffizi - Stanzino delle Matematiche [Uffizi Gallery - Stanzino delle Matematiche]

In the late 16th century, Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici conceived the project of preparing a room adjoining the Tribune in the Uffizi, as a «room to set up for the study of military architecture», to exhibit machines for raising weights, mathematical instruments (several of which are today housed in the Museum of the History of Science) and «books and geographical maps and plans and models of fortresses».

The first decorations of the Stanzino delle Matematiche were carried out between 1599 and 1600 by Giulio Parigi who in addition to a celebration of the Medici undertakings and Florentine professional traditions, also created a visual history of mathematics. The portraits of Pythagoras, Ptolemy, and Euclid are associated with the mathematical foundation of the military art. The undisputed hero of this visual history of mathematics, however, is Archimedes, whose apotheosis, celebrated in the Stanzino, attests to the renewed interest for the Syracusan that emerged in those years: suffice it to recall the arrival in Florence of the Greek codex of his works, today preserved in the Medici-Laurentian Library. Sixty years later, Grand Duke Ferdinando II and prince Leopoldo de’ Medici dedicated new attention to mathematics, consecrating the eastern Corridor of the Gallery to it. Galileo Galilei was then celebrated as the "New Archimedes". In 1780, Filippo Lucci integrated the Stanzino’s iconography with a series of images depicting several electrostatic devices, a sign of the evident interest that these apparatuses aroused in the late 18th century.

The Stanzino delle Matematiche is today indicated in the Uffizi Gallery as "Room 17 of the Hermaphrodite". Indeed, in the centre of the room, is the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, a Roman copy of an original bronze statue by Polykleitos.


Texts by Paolo Galluzzi

English translation by Victor Beard

Last update 06/feb/2008