In Via Manzoni in the Fashion District of Milan you will find an outstanding private museum, established by nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, which was opened to the public in 1881. The museum, a singular example of a late 19th-century aristocratic Milanese residence, contains Poldi Pzzoli’s fine collection of paintings, sculpture, rugs, armour, glass, watches and textiles. The ground floor houses arms and armour from the 14th to the 19th century in a setting designed by artist Amaldo Pomodoro. The Fresco Room, named after The Apotheosis of Bartolomeo Colleoni, boasts a Tabriz carpet with hunting scenes (Persia, 1542-3). In the adjoining room is the museum’s collection of lace.
The staricase, decorated with landscapes by Magnasco, leads to the first floor. In the Lombard Rooms you will find 15th-16th-century Lombard paintings, with works by Bergognone, Luini, the Leonardosque painters, a Polyptych by Cristoforo Moretti, and Vincenzo Foppa’s Portrait of Giovanni Francesco Brivio. The portraits of Martin Luther and his wife by Lucas Cranach (1529) are in the Foreign Artists Room.
A showcase of precious porcelain separates the next room, from the Golden Room where masterpieces are on display. These include St Nicholas of Tolentino by Piero della Francesca, Botticelli’s Madonna and Child and Lamentation, a Madonna and Child by Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà and the Portrait of a Young Woman attributed to Piero del Pollaiolo. Three small rooms house the Visconti Venosta collection, the portraits by Fra Galgario, including The Gentleman with the Tricorn, and a very important collection of clocks from the 16th to the 19th century.
The Murano Glass Room has fine specimens of Venetian glasswork, and the Dante Study features two stained-glass windows celebrating Dante’s life. The last rooms house paintings by Tiepolo, Guardia, Canaletto and 14th-century panels. Lastly, the Jewellery Room hosts a collection of precious jewellery and goldsmithery from antiquity to the 19th century. On some Wednesdays the museum organises a ‘happy hour’ between 6pm and 9pm, The admission fee includes a drink to enjoy while taking in the exhibits. Certainly a civilised way to enjoy this beautiful museum.
This truly is a museum to put on your ‘must see when in Milan’ list. It is breathtakingly beautiful in so many ways and I will certainly be visited it again.