Back into Italy again in 2016 and I was based in the city of Milan. This is a city steeped in artistic history and culture. Its reputation is well known in the world of art. It was the perfect opportunity for me to tour one of the world’s best art galleries and so I hooked up with Walks of Italy.com to get a guided tour of La Pinacoteca di Brera Art Gallery. You might remember I previously toured the Vatican City with Walks of Italy.
- I was booked onto the Pinacoteca di Brera Art Gallery Tour with Walks of Italy on Saturday 11, June 2016 15:00 with Laura as my guide.
The Pinacoteca di Brera is brimming with paintings and sits in an elaborate courtyard building, with a statue of Napoleon the centrepiece. The building is also used as an art school and therefore the museum space to house paintings becomes limited. It houses some of the world’s most famous paintings and is the largest and most famous collection in the city of Milan.
My tour guide was Laura and the tour began at 2.45 pm on a Saturday in June 2016. On arrival, we are first given an introduction into the history of the building and a little bit of background into Italian and Milanese art. The paintings inside are mostly by painters from the northern regions of Italy.
Having previously backpacked in Rome, Venice, Trieste, Pisa and Florence, some of this style of art was known to me and there were similarities. We first start with an introduction in the courtyard. Here a statue of Napoleon sits, it was constructed by Italian artist Antonio Canova. It’s a bronze nude statue of Napoleon I of France, in the guise of the Roman god Mars. Napoleon holds a gilded Victory standing on an orb in his right hand and a staff in his left. It was produced between 1802 and 1806 and stands 3.45 metres to the raised left hand and is instantly recognisable and “selfie inviting”.
After our introduction we head straight to the first room on the tour. Here this is a massive painting depicting an imaginary scene in Alexandria in Egypt. In this huge work of art, we see St. Mark preaching in a square which has a building that looks like a cross between a Mosque and a Church, I’ve included this one on my favourite three paintings from the tour, below. The tour continues through about twenty elaborate rooms and Laura is very detailed in her explanations of the key works of art. I picked my favourites and as you can tell, I love “the kiss” painting.
Here are my textbook top 3 favourite paintings from the tour:
1.The Kiss by Francesco Hayez
I never really see myself as a romantic unless I’m in love and I’ve been hurt in that game too many times before, but “The Kiss” was by far my favourite painting in the entire gallery. Francesco Hayez includes a political message here in a very distinctive painting.
The lady, dressed in a striking light blue, is French. The man dressed in red and with a green scarf, is Italian. The two lovers faces are not fully shown in the painting. It is meant to signify and celebrate the love between the two nations. As I stood here in a Northern Irish green, I thought of a girl far away, and I thought of kissing her in this way. If she ever reads this, she will know who she is and that the kiss is for her.
2.The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael
In one special room at the Pinacoteca are three paintings representing the same event – the marriage of the virgin. Mary is seen being presented with a ring.
The Raphael painting has changed hands several times before settling in 1806 at this gallery. If you look at the paintings below, you will see that it is inspired by the painting by Perugino of the same event.
It makes a very interesting debate to compare and contrast the two paintings. Here are the other two paintings in the same room, which make for interesting comparison and discussion. The third of these is by Jean Baptiste Wicar.
3.Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria, Egypt by Gentile Bellini e Giovanni Bellini
The Bellini brothers between them painted this absolute gem. It’s a depiction of a scene of Saint Mark preaching in Alexandria, Egypt. It includes Middle East Islamic culture and European Christianity too. You can stare at it for hours. It’s so sublime and a tad surreal looking, with the building in the background enigmatically being a church or a Mosque.
The tour took just over two hours and is a pretty extensive insight into Milanese art (and further afield). Laura is also on hand to answer as many questions as you may have during the tour. This tour comes highly recommended for all art lovers out there. Here are some more paintings from the tour, though I thoroughly recommend booking it to see them for yourself.
Here are the details for booking a tour of La Pinacoteca in Milan with Walks of Italy:
From Italy: +39-069-480-4888
Rome office hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Central European Time. However the phone number works until midnight Italian time.
Rome local time (GMT+1). If dialing Italy from a U.S. phone, dial 011-39.
Here are some videos from my tour of La Pinacoteca in Milan with Walks of Italy: