Estense Gallery in Modena is one of the oldest and most important National Galleries of Italy where the collection of arts of Este family, the dukes of the city, are exposed. A real gem, a place to get lost for few hours, admiring the magnificence of a past that has left its mark. This is a visit that I really loved and that gave me the opportunity to learn more about Este.
I’ll tell you then my experience between the rooms of one of the oldest and most important National Galleries of my country.
Estense Gallery in Modena: a museum to visit
Estense Gallery is one of the museums of the city that certainly worth a visit.
Inside its four large halls and sixteen rooms (where you can really get lost 😉 ), it is exposed the artistic heritage that Este family has accumulated over the years: a collection of paintings, a selection of sculptures in marble and terracotta, some works of decorative arts (for example the beautiful musical instruments), a collection of prints, drawings and graphics woodblock matrices and, finally, one of the largest collections in the world of coins (about 40,000 pieces).
It’s incredible thinking about how many masterpieces are kept here!
One of the most famous and representative of them is definitely the beautiful marble bust of Francesco I d’Este by Bernini, that has became the symbol of the museum and that welcomes the visitors at the beginning of their visit.
This masterpiece has arrived in Modena in 1651 as a tribute to the Duke of Modena. Its history hides a funny anecdote: Bernini has never met Francesco I! The sculptor realized his work following the image of two official portraits of the Duke who were sent him in his atelier in Rome. The final result was such similar to the reality that Bernini won the admiration of the whole court! 🙂
There are, then, other masterpieces to remember, among them: “the Pity” by Cima da Conegliano, the “Madonna and the Child” by Correggio, the “Portrait of Francesco I d’Este” by Velazquez, “the Triptych” by El Greco and “the Crucifix” by Guido Reni.
Estense Gallery and its 300 paintings
More than 300 paintings, actually a huge number! All of them belong from the patronage activities of Este family or from more recent acquisitions (such as inheritances or donations).
The exhibition follows a chronological path, from XIII to XVIII century, divided by schools of painting and themes, for example portraits or fresco. Among the authors are names likes Cosmè Tura, Dosso Dossi, Correggio (whose works are the oldest) Tintoretto, Cima da Conegliano and Veronese (the ‘500 Venetian masters), Velázquez (between ‘600 and ‘700) or Il Guercino (the master of Emilian sacred art).
Think about the artistic heritage that you can admire in these rooms is wonderful!
One of the paintings that I liked more is “Mars, Venus and Cupid” made by Il Guercino, a masterpiece of sweetness and mastery.
Estense Gallery and its rich collection of sculptures
In addition to Bernini’s bust, the museum has a rich collection of marble, bronze and terracotta sculptures dating back both to ancient times (like Roman busts) and more recent times, from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, as the “Talamone” realized by Wiligelmo, the sculptor of Modena Cathedral.
Estense Gallery and its musical instruments
Among the pieces that I like more, surely, there are also the musical instruments! This collection is small but quite diverse and it can easily make us understand how much the Este loved music.
Among the musical instruments there are: the wonderful Arpa Estense, unique in the world, created in wood by a Roman luthier, the Cello and Violin, made of maple wood by luthier Domenico Galli, the Harpsichord and Guitar, made in white Carrara marble by Michele Antonio, and the Viola by Girolamo Amati.
If you are artlovers, this gallery will welcome and amaze you at the same time.
Take your time, visit its rooms quietly and admire all the items: their historical and cultural value both for the city and for the all country is great!
Finally, I’ll tell you a little curiosity about this place: Estense Gallery has not always been inside the Palace of Museums, but when it opened, in 1854, Francesco V d’Austria chose Palazzo Ducale as its location. Only recently all the pieces moved in the actual place and it was only around the 70’s, thanks to the work of the architect Leone Pancaldi, that the exhibition started to look like how it’s now.
This visit is beautiful, I really recommend it! 🙂
Estense Gallery is “a must” for anyone visiting the city even in one day. If you want to know what are the other things that you can do in Modena in one day I suggest you to download my free ebook: “What to see in Modena in one day.”
Estense Gallery is in Largo Porta Sant'Agostino, 337, Modena.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 8.30 – 19.30. Saturday and Monday: 14.00 – 19.30.
Tickets: 4 euro (reduced: 2 euro). Free for under 18 years, UE citizens.
Free entrance each first Sunday of the month.
Tel. + 39 059 4395707/10 - email: [email protected]
My story about Estense Gallery is also on Steller: