Milan’s, and indeed Lombardy’s, premier art collection resides over an art school in a 17th-century Jesuit college wrapped around a two-story arcaded courtyard. This peerless collection romps in a circular tour through Italian art from medieval to Surrealism in 38 roughly chronological rooms. Along the way there are splendid Renaissance altarpieces, Venetian School and Baroque paintings, gloomy Mannerist works, and, thanks to recent donations, the odd piece by Picasso and Umberto Boccioni to enjoy.
Although the collection is not immense, it is of exquisite quality; just some of the breathtaking highlights include Piero della Francesca’s sublime Montefeltro Altarpiece (1474); the ethereal “Cristo Morto” by Andrea Mantegna (1480); Caravaggio’s superb, if mournful, 17th-century “Supper at Emmaus” (1601); and Raphael’s “Marriage of the Virgin” (1504), which was beautifully restored in the glass-walled, temperature-controlled restoration rooms that are open to the public.
Of the secular work in the gallery, standout pieces include Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss” (1859) and artist Giovanni Fattori’s pastoral scenes, which lead the way for the Macchiaioli School of Italian Impressionists from the late 19th century. Bringing the collection evermore up to date are donations including a clutch of works by Italian playboy artist Amedeo Modigliani and the sculptor Marino Marini.