Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, Italy

The Museo Poldi Pezzoli is an art museum in Milan, Italy. It is located near the Teatro alla Scala, on Via Manzoni 12. The Poldi Pezzoli Museum, which collects works of art donated by Milanese collector Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli (1822-1879), is one of the most important Italian art collections and a famous museum house in the world, located in the center of Milan, within walking distance From the Teatro alla Scala.

The Poldi Pezzoli Museum is a non-profit organisation founded in 1881 by the collector Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli. It is one of the most significant house-museum in Europe and shows the taste of one of the finest collector in the XIX century. The house of the nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli (1822-1879) serves as frame for an impressive collection of Renaissance Italian paintings, but also for a unique collection of decorative arts, namely porcelain, glasses, textiles, clocks, jewellery and metalworks. The Museum is a research institute, devoted to conservation, to studies on history of art and history of collecting and to educational studies. The Museum is committed to organise exhibitions in Italy and abroad and to co-ordinate researches and publications. The conservation department regularly publishes books on restoration regarding the different objects of the collections.

The museum was originated in the 19th century as a private collection of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli (1822–1879) and his mother, Rosa Trivulzio, of the family of the condottiero Gian Giacomo Trivulzio. Many of the rooms in the palace were redecorated starting in 1846, a commissions entrusted to Luigi Scrosati and Giuseppe Bertini. Individual rooms were often decorated and furnished to match the paintings hung on the walls. The architect Simone Cantoni (1736–1818) rebuilt the palace in its present Neoclassical style with an English-style interior garden. In 1850–1853, Poldi Pezzoli commissioned the architect Giuseppe Balzaretto to refurbish his apartment.

Pezzoli in his testament left the house and contents to the Brera Academy. Giuseppe Bertini, director of the Academy, opened the museum on April 25, 1881. During World War II, the palace suffered grave damage, but the artworks had been placed in safe storage. The museum was reopened in 1951 after reconstruction.

Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli was born in Milan on 27 July 1822. His father Giuseppe Poldi Pezzoli (1768-1833) in 1818 had inherited a considerable estate from the Pezzoli Family, who had been in charge of the tax collecting for the Austrian government. In 1819 Giuseppe married Rosa Trivulzio (1800-1859), the daughter of Marquis Gian Giacomo (1774 -1831), heir of the most famous Milanese private museum. A man of great culture, he was a collector of precious objects and antique books for the family library, known as the Trivulziana Library.

At his father’s death, Gian Giacomo was only eleven and Rosa took charge of his education, while continuing her friendship with artists and literates.

In 1846, Gian Giacomo turned twenty-four and inherited the family fortune. As a patriot, he supported the 1848 insurrection and, after the restoration of Austrian power in Lombardy, was exiled. He took refuge in Lugano and afterwards travelled to France and Florence. His journeys to Switzerland, France and England were important opportunities to learn about the latest trends in international art collecting. Indeed, in those years, the first Great Exhibition was organized in London, and in Paris opened the Musée Cluny of decorative arts in a Gothic setting.

Back in Milan, in 1849 Gian Giacomo started the project of his house-museum.

In 1846, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli started the refurbishing of his apartment in the family palace. He entrusted the project to two most appreciated artists-decorators Luigi Scrosati (1815-1869) and Giuseppe Bertini (1825-1898). On the first floor there was a series of rooms, each one inspired to a style of the past. The staircase and the bedroom were in a neo-Baroque style; the Black Room was inspired to “an Early Renaissance style”, the Dante Study to a “14th century style”. At the time, the recovery of the past (historicism) and the revival of past styles and techniques were highly appreciated. The rooms became the perfect refined spaces to host paintings, furniture and applied arts.

In 1879, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli suddendly died, only fifty-seven years old and heirless. Already in 1861 in his will he had written he wanted his apartment and all the art works which it contained to become an Artistic Foundation “…for public use and benefit in perpetuity in accordance with the rules of the Brera Gallery”. The administration and the direction of such foundation were entrusted to his friend and collaborator Giuseppe Bertini. The museum opened to the public on 25 April 1881, during the Milan National Exhibition. In a few days, it got thousands of visitors.

The Poldi Pezzoli Artistic Foundation was created in 1881, alongside the opening of the Museum. The Foundation looks after over 6000 artworks (paintings and applied arts). Today it is an Onlus (a no-profit institution), governed by a Board of Trustees (link), which includes: the Superintendent of the Cultural Heritage of Milan, representatives of the Ministry for Culture, of the Lombardy Region, of the Province of Milan, of the City of Milan, and of the Main Supporters, as well as a heir of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli.

The museum is notable for its broad collection of Northern Italian and Netherlandish/Flemish artists. The exhibition includes weaponry, glassworks, ceramics, jewelry, and furnishings.

It is part of the Circuit of the “Case Museo di Milano” and exhibits works by many artists, including: Perugino, Piero della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli, Antonio Pollaiolo, Giovanni Bellini, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Pinturicchio, Filippo Lippi, Andrea Mantegna, Jacopo Palma The Old, Francesco Hayez, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jusepe de Ribera, Canaletto, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Luca Giordano.

He was born as a private collection by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and his predecessors, in particular his mother Rosa Trivulzio. Rosa, daughter of Prince Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, came from a noble family of literate in close contact with the best minds of the Neoclassicism of Milan and with poets like Vincenzo Monti and Giuseppe Parini. At the death of her husband (1833), she took care of the education of her son, born in 1822, who grew up in the midst of time and arts literatures, which her mother cultivated while magnifying the already large family collection.

Inherited palace and patrimony at senior age (reached according to Austrian law at the time, at 24, in 1846), Gian Giacomo devoted himself to the enlargement of the collection. Initially, he focused on the purchase of weapons and armor (at that time much required as collector items). He supported the revolutionary motions of 1848 with great passion, and the return of the Austrians was overturned and exiled. For over a year he traveled all over Europe, so he was in contact with other collectors and numerous exhibitions, including the first international exhibitions.

Already in 1846 Gian Giacomo had begun the work necessary to obtain his own apartment, distinct from that of his mother, which will imprint the fashion of the moment based on the style eclecticism: Baroque, early Renaissance, 14th century style find space in the different rooms of the ‘ Apartment, which was appreciated and visited by both audiences and artists of the time.
The halls were conceived as precious containers of a series of ancient artworks and are specially designed to accommodate paintings and furnishings, more like a modern art gallery, a real home-based personal and personal dimension.

It was a first-floor hall that was first adapted to host the armenia under the direction of architect Giuseppe Balzaretto and stage designer Filippo Peroni. It was completed in 1850 in Neo-Gothic style, and was followed by the bedroom, whose layout was inspired by Lombard manierism. The works of decoration and fitting of the other halls (from Studiolo Dantesco, 1853-56) were entrusted to Giuseppe Bertini, painter and teacher at Brera Academy, Giuseppe Speluzzi, bronze artist and artist, and painter Luigi Scrosati. The work involved the Yellow Room, the Black Room and the monumental staircase (completed in 1857 and subsequently enriched by a baroque style fountain).

Always aware of the contributions of artists and thinkers from all over Europe, who often hosted, Gian Giacomo ranged from the interests of the craft to painting, from fabrics and tapestries, from glass to ceramics, from jewelery to applied arts. The collection has become a landmark in the seventies, both in Italy and abroad.

Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli died in 1879 at the age of 57. But for a long time he had written into the testament the legacy of his own house and the works of art contained therein at the Accademia di Brera in order to be administered to make it a true Art Foundation.

The administration and management were entrusted to Bertini, who officially inaugurated the new museum on April 25, 1881.