The Corridor on the Arno, spectacular for the views of the Ponte Vecchio, the river and the hills south of Florence, has been home for centuries the best works of ancient statuary, because of the spectacularity of the setting and the maximum brightness (in fact, south). The frescoes on the ceilings are of religious theme, executed between 1696 and 1699 by Giuseppe Nicola Nasini and Giuseppe Tonelli, on the initiative of the “very Catholic” Grand Duke Cosimo III, apart from the first two spans that date back to the 16th century: one with a fake pergola and one with the grotesques. Among the statues on display are a Love and Psyche, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original, and the so-called dying Alexander, a Hellenistic head derived from an original of Pergamum, an often cited model of pathetic expression. At the intersections with the main corridors are two statues of the Olympia type, derived from the seated Venus of Phidias, one of the fourth century and one of the first century with the head redone in modern times.
On the side towards the Arno there is the Girl ready to dance (II century BC, part of a group with the Dancing Satyr, of which there is a copy in front of the Tribuna entrance) and a Mars in black marble (from an original of V-IV century BC). On the opposite side there is a fragment of porphyry Lupa, a copy of an original from the 5th century BC and a Dionysus and satyr, with only the ancient bust, while the rest was added by Giovan Battista Caccini in the late sixteenth century.
In the west corridor, used as a gallery from the second half of the seventeenth century after hosting the craft workshops, continues the series of classical statues of provenance mainly Roman, largely purchased at the time of Cosimo III on the antique Roman market. Among the most interesting works are the two statues of Marsia (white and red), placed opposite each other and Roman copies of a late Hellenistic original: the red one belonged to Cosimo the Elder and the head was integrated, according to Vasari, by Donatello . Further on is a copy of the Discobolo di Mirone, with the right arm restored as if covering the face (for a long time it was aggregated to the Niobe group). The Mercury is a valuable nude derived from Praxiteles restored in the sixteenth century. To the left of the vestibule there is a bust of Caracalla, with the energetic expression that inspired the portraits of Cosimo I de ‘Medici. On the opposite wall there is a Muse from the 4th century BC of Atticiano di Aphrodisias and an Apollo with the cithara, ancient bust elaborated by Caccini. The celestial Venus is another ancient bust integrated in the seventeenth century by Alessandro Algardi: for this reason, when they were found the original arms were not reintegrated. The Nereid on the Hippocampus derives from a Hellenistic original. Remarkable is the portraiture realism of the Bust of Boy, also called the child Nerone.
At the end of the corridor is the Laocoonte copied by Baccio Bandinelli for Cosimo I de ‘Medici at the request of Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, with additions of the Bandinelli himself deduced from the virgilian tale. It is the only entirely modern statue of the corridors, which allows comparison, once so dear to the Medici, between modern and ancient masters.
The decoration of the ceiling took place between 1658 and 1679 on the initiative of Ferdinando II de ‘Medici, with subjects linked to illustrious Florentine men, as examples of virtue, and the personifications of the cities of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The painters who participated in the work were Cosimo Ulivelli, Angelo Gori, Jacopo Chiavistelli and others. When the last twelve bays were lost in a fire in 1762, the frescoes were reinstated by Giuseppe del Moro, Giuliano Traballesi and Giuseppe Terreni.
The Gallery entirely occupies the first and second floors of the large building constructed between 1560 and 1580 and designed by Giorgio Vasari. It is famous worldwide for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings (from the Middle Ages to the Modern period). The collections of paintings from the 14th-century and Renaissance period include some absolute masterpieces: Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, in addition to many precious works by European painters (mainly German, Dutch and Flemish).
Moreover, the Gallery boasts an invaluable collection of ancient statues and busts from the Medici family, which adorns the corridors and consists of ancient Roman copies of lost Greek sculptures.