The recent restoration of the Ambrosiana Gallery Library has permitted the full recovery of one of the oldest and most prestigious cultural foundations in Europe. It was founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1607 and inaugurated 2 years later, in 1609 as symbol of one of the public libraries in the world.
Later in 1618 the Gallery was opened to house the very rich collection of several paintings donated by the same Cardinal. It was a great success, in fact so many people went to visit it and were impressed by the beauty of the paintings.
Other kind of art are related to the Gallery: intellectuals of the past centuries, from Stendhal to Manzoni, from Flaubert to D’Annunzio, visited and frequented the Library very often, since it housed (and still does it) an extraordinary collection of paitings, drawings, illuminated codices and antiques books, documenting the culture of all periods.
In particular, the Gallery has been enriched by further donation over the course of the centuries, and today it occupies 23 rooms, which follow a suggestive route through the architectural complex of the Ambrosiana Library, which is a result of several extensions.
Some of the masterpieces of the art are, obviously, Caravaggio‘s Basket, Leonardo‘s Musician and Raphael‘s School of Athens, which make a visit to the Gallery an unforgettable experience. Moreover, into the suggestive space opening into the Reading Room of the Library it is possible to admire the Cardinal’s favorite paintings: Titan’s huge Adoration of the Magi, Bernardo Luini‘s moving Holy Family and the elegant Dame with Snood attributed to the Leonardesque Giovanni Ambrogio De Pretis.
The next room houses Leonardo’s Musician, one of his portraiture masterpieces, which captures the deepest psychological shades of the human soul. Nearby there is the recently restored Madonna of the Pavillon by Sandro Botticelli, in which both the angels’ robe and the landscape in the background are rendered with highly refined use of luminous and transparent polychromy.