Tuesday, 12 May 2009

What to see: Villa Reale, Milan

The Villa Reale in Milan, also known as Villa Belgiojoso or Villa Bonaparte, is one of the most splendid buildings in Milan. Situated at Via Palestro the empire-style palace was commissioned by the Austrian politician Count Ludovico di Barbiano e Belgiojoso (1728-1801) from the Viennese-born architect Leopold Pollack (1751-1806) and completed in 1790.
Following the French conquest of Northern Italy the villa, now renamed Villa Bonaparte, became the home of Napoléon I’s adopted son, Prince Eugène, who reigned as Viceroy of Italy from 1805. With his wife Auguste he preferred the large villa, situated between two gardens, to the Royal Palace in the very centre of the city, which they only used for official and ceremonial functions. It was at the Villa Reale that their first child, the future Queen Josephina of Sweden and Norway, was born on 14 March 1807. Napoléon himself also stayed there when visiting Milan.
After Napoléon’s fall Northern Italy again came under the control of the Habsburgs. Field Marshal Count Josef Radetzky, who was in command of the Austrian army in Italy, later came to live at the villa, where he died in 1858. Today Villa Reale houses the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, which in Italy normally means 19th century art – indeed the museum is also known as “Museo Ottocento”. It also houses three other smaller art collections.
The first photo shows the garden façade, the second the façade towards the courtyard. In the third picture is the ballroom, followed by the dining room with its ceiling painting “Apollo and the Muses” by the great Italian neoclassical painter Andreas Appiani (1754-1817). Then a sculpture gallery and finally one of the palace’s many other sumptuous rooms.

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