A collection of art to be envied by even the most beautiful museums in the world, and a bibliographic collection among the richest in Italy: two places in which the souls of artists, scientists, writers and thinkers will live on through eternity.
Palazzo Brera, currently home to the art gallery of the same name, the Braidense National Library and the Academy of Fine Arts, has historic origins. The original foundations date back to 1201, when it was the principal home of the Humiliati Order. The order was later suppressed in 1571 by Pope Pius V. The architectural complex then underwent numerous transformations around the 17th century to accommodate the Jesuit college.
The art gallery holds one of the most celebrated collections of artworks in Italy and the world. It principally specialises in Venetian and Lombard painting, but also contains countless masterpieces from other schools.
The first paintings arrived in 1799, shortly followed by other important acquisitions in 1803, including the works of Pompeo Batoni, Tintoretto, Orazio Gentileschi, Palma il Vecchio and other great masters. Over time, the palazzo was transformed from a consecrated site, to a place of teaching, into a national modern museum.
In fact, unlike collections in Rome, Florence, Naples, Turin, Modena and Parma, the birth of the collection in Brera does not have origins in royal or aristocratic collectionism, but rather it was moved by the fundamental ideals of the French revolution, those of democracy and equality. It was a political state collection, created for the community.
Braidense National Library - Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense
‘‘An open library for common use by those who desire to cultivate their own intelligence and acquire new knowledge.’’
This was the motivation that inspired Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to establish the Braidense Library in Milan, 1770, and today it houses one of the most important book collections in Italy.
Currently, around 1,500,000 items have been collected, among which include the primary nucleus of the entire library, the collection of the Jesuit college; the collection of Albrecht von Haller (Bern, 1708-1777), founder of modern physiology; 650 Aldine editions (1494-1598), and the entire collection of the celebrated writer Alessandro Manzoni.
The remarkable iconografic heritage of the Braidense National Library is not limited to literature. In fact, it also holds a collection of engravings and prints produced with traditional techniques (woodcuts, metal engravings, lithography), offering a selection of the best European productions of the era, covering a time period from the 15th to the 19th century.
The library possesses a collection dedicated to photography, one of great relevance to the city. The collection documents the activities of Emiliano Sommariva, a Milanese photographer of the early 20th century who gained European-wide recognition.
Bridgeman Images | Image. It’s Everything
Images of works held by the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense are now available for reproduction through Bridgeman Images. If you have any question about this collection please contact us.