A visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera is a must for any person particularly interested in Renaissance art. Located in one of the most beautiful suburbs of Milan, I recommend visiting the museum on a Sunday, as the long strip of Corso Garibaldi is filled with cyclists, buskers, artists and restaurants that spill out onto the streets. It really adds to the Milanese experience. It has the most well known Italian artists that started and developed the iconic art movement. The Pinacoteca houses works by Raphael, Mantegna, Bramante, Rubens and Caravaggio. It also covers in depth other European artists of that time including the influential Flemish artists Van Dyck, Jan de Beer and more.
The history of the Pinacoteca comes from a convent of the Jesuits from 1572 until its stature as a formal Academy by Giuseppe Parini in 1776. To further its educational teaching, the Academy began acquiring notable artworks, and for the next 300 years, it grew Milan’s most important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings. The significance of the Pinacoteca began in 1809 through Napoleon, who founded the gallery to display the artworks of the academy, and it wasn’t until after the unification of Italy in 1882 that the Pinacoteca separated from the Palazzo di Brera and the Academy. The Brera Academy continues to this day, sharing the location within the Palazzo Brera.
I believe this museum is one for those who are more inclined towards specific artwork, especially those with a religious inspiration. I highly recommend that the average museum visitor (like myself) acquire an audio guide, that gives an in depth overview for the major works, helping highlight the key history, context and artistic styles that are present in the paintings. Also for those who do not speak Italian, the audio guide is essential as there is virtually no English besides the audio guides. Two of my recommended favorites, although not inspired by religious ideologies are The Kiss by Hayez and Triste Presentimento by Gerolamo Induno. These two works are both beautifully painted in detail and help to catch a sense of place and mood that are immediately felt.
Another highlight and coincidently, Expo in Città’s symbol for July with the slogan BElong, is Lo Sposalizio della Vergine (The marriage of the Virgin) by Raphael. The work is a long disputed homage to Raphael’s teacher Perugino who painted a similar work. It was commissioned by Filippo degli Albezzini and it depicts a marriage arrangement held in front an open temple. The mastery of colour, perspective and lighting achieved by Raphael in this painting makes this work stand out amongst his oeuvres. The audio guide I listened to really helped highlight the technique with which Raphael was able to create a sense of symmetry to the painting, aligning the key figures in the foreground centrally with the temples open doors, guiding the viewers eyes upward from the figures to the building, and the landscape beyond. This painting and many more are waiting to be discovered by you at the Pinacoteca!