The decisions made by the Friends over the years have sought to improve the museum’s coverage of historical and artistic periods that were to some extent neglected in the original collection, which reflects the taste of the Napoleonic period. Typical examples are mediaeval paintings with gold grounds, whose reduced number reflected a nineteenth-century prejudice. The acquisitions of Christ the Judge by Giovanni da Milano, the Stories of St. Barbara by a master of Rimini (later identified as Giovanni Baronzio) and a Madonna and Child by Ambrogio Lorenzetti mean that today the gallery can boast three rooms devoted to Italian painting from the 13th to the 15th centuries.
The Friends performed a richly significant gesture in 1939, just before the dissolution of the association under the stringent new rules regulating private associations in the fascist period. They donated Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus to the Pinacoteca. This is one of the few works by the Lombard master to be preserved in his native region. Over the years, the donations have included whole private collections. This was the case of the Jesi donation, made by the members Emilio and Maria Jesi who, with two successive gifts, left their entire collection to the Pinacoteca. The fact that it consists of works by 20th-century artists again shows that true art is timeless.
The generous bequest by Lamberto Vitali likewise added absolutely distinctive items to the collection, with works from ancient Egypt and a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci.
Important artworks donated to the museum over the years to enrich its precious collection include:
Giovanni Battista Lampi, Ritratto del principe Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg (Vienna 1711 – 1794)
Mario Mafai, Le Fantasie, serie di 22 dipinti eseguiti tra il 1941 – 1943
Cesare Tallone, Ritratto Ettore Bandini
Maestro Della Pala Sforzesca, San Giovanni Evangelista
Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci
Preserved in the Drawings Cabinet of the Pinacoteca di Brera
Amedeo Modigliani, Enfant Gras
(in memory of Franco Russoli, the Director who began the Grande Brera)
Giovanni Antonio Sogliani, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria
Giovanni Da Milano, Cristo in trono adorato da Angeli
(in memory of Fernanda Wittgens, the Director of Post-War Reconstruction)
Niccolo di Pietro, Incoronazione della Vergine
Francesco Cairo, Cristo all’orto
[Socio Presidente, 1961-68]
Guido Cagnacci, Cleopatra Morente
Giovanni Segantini, Pascoli di primavera
Giovanni Cariani, Cristo Risorto
Giovanni Estienne, Terzo concorso nazionale di tiro a Firenze
Bonifacio Bembo, SS. Alessio e Giuliano
Morazzone (Mazzuchelli Pier Francesco), San Francesco in Estasi
Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), Cena in Emmaus
Joshua Reynolds, Ritratto di Lord Donoughmore
Bonifacio Bembo, Ritratti di Francesco e Bianca Maria Sforza
Silvestro Lega, Un dopo pranzo (Il Pergolato)
Bartolomeo Passarotti, Ritratto di gentiluomo con il cane
Supporting one of the most famous and illustrious symbols of Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera, is an act of generosity that enables the community to strengthen and enhance its identity, actively contributing to activities that protect and foster our extraordinary cultural heritage.
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