A stroll into Brera, the artists’ district of Milan
Private guided tour of the Brera Picture Gallery
Masterpieces of the Venetian & Lombard School
Masterpices from Urbino
Top 19th century Italian masterpieces
Stop at the mythical ‘Bar Jamaica’ (on request)
INSIDE BRERA: THE PICTURE GALLERY & AROUND
Our walk inside Brera, the historical artists’ quarter of Milan, begins with Corso Garibaldi and Piazza San Simpliciano, where we stop to admire the splendid façade of the ancient Basilica, one of the four churches founded by St Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan.
The area, closed to the traffic, with its cobblestone floors and the old trams passing by, is dotted with bookshops, art galleries, cafés, boutiques and antiques’ shops. Elegant and informal at the same time.
We soon reach Via Brera, its name derives from the Lombard term ‘braida’, i.e. ‘uncultivated land’, reminding us that this area was once just outside the city walls. It became a monastery in the 14th century.
Acquired later by the Jesuits, that established a college here, Palazzo Brera owes its solid and severe aspect to a 17th century reconstruction. In 1773, with the dissolution of the Jesuit Order, it became State property.
Empress Maria Theresa of Austria transformed it into the seat of important cultural institutions: the Academy of Fine Arts, the Lombard Institute of Sciences & Letters, the Braidense Library, the Astronomical Observatory and the Botanical Garden.
We walk inside the monumental Brera courtyard, where a colossal bronze statue of Napoleon depicted as Mars, designed by the great sculptor Antonio Canova, invites us to discover the treasures in the collection.
At the core of our Inside Brera tour is the visit to the Pinacoteca, the Picture Gallery, born as an initiative of the Napoleonic government in Italy to create a Royal Gallery. It was officially inaugurated in 1809.
With the same intents of the Accademia Galleries in Venice, the collection was to support the training of young students at the pre-existing Academy of Fine Arts, still today located on the ground floor.
Just before the entrance to the Gallery we can ‘peep’ into the awesome
National Braidense Library, with its ancient furnishings, chandeliers and frescoed ceilings, is one of the largest and best preserved in Italy .
A new color scheme, with vibrant blues,greens and reds, and a new direct lighting of the works embraces now the collection, enhancing our visual experience and facilitating our perception and appreciation of their beauty.
The intense ‘Dead Christ’, Andrea Mantegna’s masterpiece, can now be admired inside a new installation, staged by the Italian movie director Ermanno Olmi, and dialogues artistically with Giovanni Bellini’s ‘Pieta’.
The renovation of the Brera Gallery started in 2009, with the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the museum. Since July 2018 it is possible to watch the restauration of art works thanks to a ‘transparent’ lab.
At the center of our attention the superb collections of Venetian and Lombard paintings from the 15th and the 16th century: Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Vettore Carpaccio, Cima da Conegliano, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Tintoretto, Paris Bordon, Romanino, Savoldo, Moretto.
The other ‘heart’ of the Brera Gallery is Room XXIV, dedicated to the figurative culture of Urbino, Central Italy, with its three undiscussed protagonists: Piero della Francesca, Raphael and Donato Bramante.
Another icon of the museum, besides the ‘Dead Christ’ by Mantegna is the ‘Marriage of the Virgin’ by Raphael. Not far from it we are exposed to the ‘Supper at Emmaus’, a powerful vision by Caravaggio.
The 19th century section of the Brera Picture Gallery stages some of the best loved works of the period: Francesco Hayez’ ‘The Kiss’and Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo’ s ‘Fiumana’, a huge, never completed canvas.
At the end of our Inside Brera discovery we might like to stop at ‘Bar Jamaica’, where, surrounded by tourists, students of the nearby Academy of fine Arts, intellectuals and nostalgic, you’ll learn about this most popular local ‘institution’, its cultural and political importance, its past glories and exotic name.
Cost of this tour
This tour lasts approximately 3 hours and costs: 250 euro up to 6 people
Admissions: Brera Gallery 12 euro full price, 8 euros reduced.
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