Brera Art Gallery

(Brera Art Gallery) Via Brera, 28 • M2 Lanza, M3 Montenapoleone; tram 1, 4, 6, 12, 14, 27; bus 61,97
Up the monumental staircase at the bottom of the first courtyard.
www.brera.beniculturali.it
€5, free for EU citizens under 18 or over 65, free for children under 12, €3.10 for EU citizens aged 18-25.
Open: Tues-Sun 8.30-19.15, last entrance at 18.15, closed on Mon. Opening times may vary.
Info: tel. 02722631, 0289421146

One of the finest galleries for Medieval and Renaissance Italian art. Famous works include Raphael’s “Marriage of the Virgin”, Piero della Francesca’s altarpiece with the Duke of Urbino, and Mantegna’s Dead Christ in dramatic foreshortening. There is a Last Supper by Rubens, in which the eyes of Judas seem to follow your gaze as you move through the room. The ultra-romantic “Kiss” is by Francesco Hayez, a very skilled 19th-century painter who was so celebrated in Milan during his time that he was commemorated with a statue in Piazzetta Brera, to the right of the entrance to the Museum. Guidebooks in English, Japanese, French, German, Italian.

The building itself is exceptional: it was constructed from 1591 as a Jesuit theology college, and greatly extended by the architect Richini from 1651. Under the rule of Maria Teresa of Austria, in the 18th century the Jesuit order was suppressed, and the building became the seat for various institutions of learning, along with the Botanic Garden (which still exists behind the Palazzo) and the Astronomical Observatory. The art collection began in the late 18th century, as a means of gathering work suitable for copying by students: it was greatly extended between 1805 and 1811, when the new French rulers of the city confiscated works from churches and monasteries, and installed them here, building an extension to house them. In the first courtyard, a statue of Napoleon by Antonio Canova depicts the emperor naked, with a Winged Victory in his right hand. The Winged Victory was stolen in 1978, and replaced only a few years later. The entrance to the Brera gallery is up the stairs at the end of this courtyard.

Observatory: the Museum of Antique Astronomical Instruments is situated in the Brera building. Admission free, open 9.00-16.00 Mon-Fri, closed Sat and Sun, tel. 028057309, infobrera@unimi.it.