Nearly four hundred pieces (arms, ceramics, textiles, carpets, clocks and jewels) testify the popularity of Oriental manufacts in Europe in the 19th century. These objects were mostly bought by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, but there are also later acquisitions, as the Coptic textiles collection donated by Robert de Calatchi, by the Amici di Brera, Amici del Poldi Pezzoli and by Marco Valsecchi, and the Japanese netsuke collected by Giacinto Ubaldo Lanfranchi, presented in their special section.
New fine items have been added to the small group of fans hosted in the museum already in the 19th century. They are made of precious materials, as mother of pearl or tortoiseshell, or they are interesting for their peculiarity, as the collection of Souvenir fans with views of Italian landscapes and antiquities, acquired by Grand tour travelers, donated to the museum in 2005 by Carlo Borgomaneri
The collection of archaeology includes over 220 Etruscan and Roman items: arms, ceramics, sculptures and jewellery from grave goods dating between the 4th century BC and the 2nd century AD. In this collection, is evident Gian Giacomo’s passion for arms, but there are also Attic ceramics and small Roman sculptures. Recently, the Museum has acquired the Necchi Rizzi archaeological collection.
Arms and Armour
Arms and armour were the first passion of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, who commissioned the set-up of a Neo-Gothic style crowded armoury. In the collection, there are about one thousand Western and Oriental arms and armours. Among them, stand out the Renaissance parade armours made in Milan by Pompeo della Cesa and the 16th century firearms from Brescia and Germany.
Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli had gathered important Italian furniture: Renaissance cassoni, precious carved and inlaid cabinets, pieces decorated with semiprecious-stones, Lombard and Venetian wall mirrors. Notable are also the rich 19th century pieces of furniture designed by Giuseppe Bertini and made for Gian Giacomo’s apartment by Milanese artisans.
Prints and drawings
The collection of prints and darwings has been for the most part donated to the Museum by Riccardo Lampugnani (Milan, 1900-1996), nephew of a pupil of the painter Francesco Hayez. The collection includes over 600 drawings dating from the 15th to the 20th century.
Gathered in the Jewellery Room, there are sacred items, enamels, jewels, objects de vertu that create a collection heterogeneous and the same time unique for its rarity and high quality. Among the highlights, Medieval Limoges enamels, works by Renaissance Lombard goldsmiths, 16th century jewels, 19th century parures by Fortunato Pio Castellani.
Clocks and watches
About 500 pieces form the most important antique horology collection in Italy. It was enriched thanks to donations, as the ones by Bruno Falck, Luigi Delle Piane, Alfredo Zanotelli, Angelo Reina. The collection illustrates the history of European clockmaking from the 16th to the 19th century. It includes Renaissance and Baroque table clocks as well as German, English, French and Swiss ones. Extraordinary items not only for their mechanisms but also for their precious case’s decorations.
Not many items, but of the highest quality. Among them, a monumental bronze statue of the Redeemer made in Venice in the early 16th century and a bust-portrait by Alessandro Algardi. Notable are the 19th century sculptures by Lorenzo Bartolini, who worked for Rosa Trivulzio, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli’s mother, as the Trust in God.
The heterogeneous textile collection includes important antique Persian carpets, Renaissance tapestries and 180 textiles dating from the 14th to the 18th century. Among them, rare Italian velvets and precious 15th century Lombard altar frontals. Antique Coptic textiles and Lombard and Flemish laces and embroideries, dating from the 18th and the 19th century, were acquired or received as donations.
The glass collection includes 200 items, most of them were acquired by Gian Giacomo, others were bought by the first Museum directors. They are mainly 16th and 17th century Murano glasses, showing the various Venetian glass techniques and decorations. There are also some archaeological as well as German and Bohemian pieces.
The Museum hosts over 300 paintings. Among them, many Italian works from the Renaissance: masterpieces from Tuscany (Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Pollaiuolo), Lombardy (Luini, Boltraffio, Solario) and Veneto (Bellini, Mantegna). Important is also the group of 18th century Italian painting (Guardi, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Fra Galgario). In the collection, there are mainly portraits and small size paintings.
Thanks to many purchases and donations, the museum collections have almost doubled. The Association of Friends of the Museum as well as private art collectors have donated single artworks or whole collections.
Every year many artworks in the Museum are restored, thanks also to the suppport of the Restoration Club.
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