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Milan - Ambrosian Picture Gallery
In the 1700's Cardinal Federico Borromeo decided to house the precious books and manuscripts he had painstakingly collected all over Europe inside the stately and simple Ambrosian Palace. Besides the Ambrosian Library, he also added his own private collection of paintings, which thus created the core of the future Ambrosian Picture Gallery. Then in 1796 during the French occupation the finest works in the magnificent collection were carted off as Ambrosian Picture Gallery - Fruit Basket by Caravaggio spoils, only some of which were returned in 1817. The building, which had been enlarged and transformed over the years, both inside and out, was heavily bombed during the Second World War and the toll included heavy losses in the painting collection. Restoration, started just after the war, progressed slowly and was only finished in 1959, although the final touches to the architecture and the complete rearrangement of the new halls went on until 1966. The Ambrosian Picture Gallery is today one of Milan's most visited museums. It's especially noteworthy for its superb treasures from the Lombard and Venetian schools. The vast Hall X, which despite its modern appearance is actually 17th century, contains several famous cartoons. Outstanding is Raphael's School of Athens, which is the only one of the many executed by the artist for his famous fresco cycle in the Vatican. Of great interest as well are the cartoons by Pellegrino Tibaldi for the cathedral's stained glass windows and Giulio Romano's for the Battle of Costantino. Titian, Tiepolo, Veronese, Dürer, Caravaggio, and Brueghel are just a few of the other greats whose works may be seen elsewhere in the museum.
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