Milan top attractions: the Pinacoteca di Brera

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican Museum in Rome are probably the most famous Italian museums. But the Pinacoteca di Brera enshrines a collection of masterworks spanning from the Middle Ages to contemporary art.

In the beginning

The “picture gallery of Brera” allows you to experience something like seven hundred years of art history in one place. Nevertheless the palace is a masterpiece per se.

Previously a medieval and then a Jesuits convent in Milan, the Brera Palace became an Arts Academy in 1776. The building was completely redesigned between 1627 and 1658, then completed with the current courtyard layout in 1780.

Being an Academy, the collection of paintings started with works from teachers and students. Some of them are just part of the world arts heritage…

The Pinacoteca in four masterpieces

The Pinacoteca started to acquire paintings since the early XIX Century: the following ones are our favourite.

The Brera Madonna

The Brera Madonna (also Pala di Brera, Montefeltro Altarpiece, Brera Altarpiece – pala meaning here altarpiece), 1472, is a masterpiece from Piero della Francesca, one of the most revolutionary figures of Renaissance. Mathematical precision meets flaming colours and an outstanding study of the characters.

Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, painted around 1480, is the most iconic interpretation of this sacred history subject. Mantegna masters the “made in Florence” linear perspective but he turns it into an emotional, moving kaleidoscope.

Supper at Emmaus

With this 1606 painting we find in Milan a great work from Caravaggio, usually associated with Rome. The dramatic fight between light and darkness – one of Caravaggio’s peculiarity – is very well expressed.

The Kiss

Another iconic painting The Kiss, by Francesco Hayez, 1859, is a true son of Brera, as Hayez had been director of the Academy of Brera: a Middle Ages environment for a timeless painting.

Brera’s collection has amazing pieces of modern and contemporary art as well: we’ll save them for another post, maybe…

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