After visiting monuments, shops and cafes you need to go into a museum, so that you can really experience the city cultural life.
One of the most representative museums of Milan is “Pinacoteca di Brera” (the Brera Picture Gallery), located in Brera, a district of the city center.
The Brera Palace consists of not only the picture gallery, but also the Braidense National Library, a fine-arts academy, an astronomical observatory, a botanical garden and finally a institute of sciences and literature. This place is a real cultural center!
“Brera” means suburban field in latin. During the Middle Ages, a convent was built in this area by the religious order of the Humiliati. In the 1571 the convent passed to the Jesuit order and it was converted in a study center called University.
In the early 17th century, Jesuits needed more space and they asked to the architect Francesco Maria Richini to build a new palace. However he could not finish it because of a pestilence.
The works continued and they were carried out by the son of the same architect, Gerolamo Quadrio and also by Pietro Giorgio Rossone.
When the Jesuit order was abolished, the building ended up in the hands of the Austrian government and it was completed in 1776 by Giuseppe Piermarini.
After becoming “Royal Palace”, the queen Mary Theresa of Austria used it as the headquarters of the Palatine Schools and, in addition to keeping the schools already opened by the Jesuits, she placed there the library and decided to expand the Botanical Garden. She also founded the Academy in 1776.
The Brera Gallery was officially opened in 1809 thanks to Napoleon, even if there was already a collection of artworks picked by the queen Mary Theresa of Austria for the students of the Academy.
Napoleon wanted to gather all the artworks conquered by the French armies.
Most of the paintings was confiscated from churches and convents throughout Lombardy, thanks also to the dissolution of the religious orders ordered by Napoleon.
This explains why the collection comprises especially religious works.
The collection consists mainly of paintings made by the most famous painters of all time, from the Middle Ages until the contemporary era.
As instance, there are the Renaissance masterpieces like the Lamentation of Christ by Mantegna (1480), the Holy Conversation by Piero della Francesca (1472-1474), the “Pieta” by Giovanni Bellini (1460) and the Marriage of the Virgin by Raffaello (1504).
After the Renaissance section, the visitor can admire the genius of Caravaggio, who depicted the foremost Supper at Emmaus, dated to 1606.
One of the most interesting section is that focused on the painters of the XIXth century.
Among these, there is The Kiss, a striking painting made by Francesco Hayez (1859), An Afternoon, an enchanting canvas made by Silvestro Lega (1868) and last but not least The Human Flood created by Pellizza da Volpedo (1895-1896).
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