Photo: G.dallorto on Wikimedia Commons
Big-name Renaissance artists in this world-renowned gallery
Word to the wise: Combine a visit to Pinacoteca Ambrosiana with a luxurious Lombardian lunch on the vine-covered terrace of Hostaria Borromei, tucked away on nearby Via Borromei.
Cardinal Federico Borromeo founded one of Italy’s most important libraries in the Palazzo Ambrosiana in 1609; as befitting a man of vast wealth and power he also amassed a great personal art collection, which he housed in the same building.
His original collection has been added to over the years with oils by Flemish masters, bleak Dutch landscapes by Hendrik Avercamp, a beautifully lit and frescoed gallery adorned with sculpture by neo-classicist Antonio Canova and a cute collection of gilt figures in the De Pecis Collection, acquired in 1827.
But the main pull of Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is its peerless Italian Renaissance art; the big guns include Leonardo da Vinci’s fine 'Portrait of a Musician' in Room 2, Raphael’s enormous cartoon for 'The School of Athens', preserved in sepulchral gloom in Room 5, and Caravaggio’s charming 'Basket of Fruit' in Room 7.