The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum : the story of two collector brothers.
Between 1883 and 1894, the Milanese brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi, both lawyers, decided to combine their artistic side – inherited from their miniaturist father – with the wealth inherited from Baron Valsecchi, who had adopted their father, and together they created this neo-Renaissance palace. They acquired as many original pieces as possible from the 15th to the 17th century, tapestries, furniture and paintings from all over Italy, and what they could not obtain an original, they had it imitated by an army of the best Lombard craftsmen. They plundered northern and central Italy in search of antiques, frescoes and ideas. One piece was copied from the ducal palace of Mantua, another inspired by the ducal seat of Urbino. The Sala della Stufa Valtellinese has just been entirely rebuilt from a palace in Sondrio and reassembled here. Although there is a painting by Giovanni Bellini, none of the other works is the work of a notable artist, but the overall effect is a glorious blend of Renaissance craftsmanship and art with the romantic sensibility of the late nineteenth century.
What united them above all was their passion for the Renaissance and the refinement that distinguishes it. If the need to seek inspiration in the past to express one’s own artistic sense was common among the 19th century aristocracy, more singular and admirable was the brothers’ choice to focus on the 15th and 16th centuries in Lombardy. From fixed decorations to movable elements – including a vast collection of weapons, antique volumes and instruments of all kinds – each element appears in perfect harmony with the others. To give an idea of the value of the collections in the exhibitions, there are, for example, works by Giovanni Bellini, Gentile Bellini, Giampietrino and Lorenzo di Niccolò. All these elements make the Bagatti Valsecchi one of the most important (and best preserved) museum houses in Europe. In addition to the furniture, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum also preserves (especially in the Galleria della Cupola) precious ceramics from the best Italian manufacturers: among them a vase from 1678 signed by Ippolito Rombaldoni. There are also sculptures in marble, polychrome wood and terracotta. Or paintings, such as the magnificent painting of Santa Giustina by Giovanni Bellini.