Established in 1618 on the initiative of Cardinal Federico Borromeo, cousin of San Carlo.
He realized in the Ambrosiana a cultural project that included the library (35,000 manuscripts and 750,000 volumes), inaugurated in 1609, and the Academy of Drawing (1620), subdivided in schools of painting, sculpture and architecture and intended for the training of artists of the Counter-Reformation. The pinacoteca, sort to provide models for the painters of the academy, included 172 paintings, partly owned by the prelate, rich family, in part by himself purchased with patient search. The collection has been enlarged in time with private donations. The first path includes the salt with the most famous works of the core Frederick and important paintings and sculptures of the XV-XVI century, acquired later. The second, in the halls of the wing Galbiati, includes paintings from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, the collection of objects, collection Sinigaglia of miniature portraits and the Museum Settala, scientific. Unable to provide an exhaustive list of works: suffice it to say that, for quality if not for quantity, the Ambrosiana is one of the major Italian art galleries, and which boasts among the artists represented Bernardino Luini (Holy Family with St Anne and San Giovannino), Leonardo da Vinci (portrait Musician), Tiziano (the Adoration of the Magi), Botticelli, (Our Lady of the roof), Raffaello (preparatory cardboard of the School of Athens), Caravaggio (basket of fruit).