The collection of Italian painting takes a prominent part in the Museum's picture gallery. It counts more than 550 works of art illustrating the entire period of development of the leading European school of painting. About 200 masterpieces are in the permanent exposition.
The Italian painting holds a specific place in the history of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts because originally it formed the basis of its picture gallery. The founder of the Museum Ivan Vladimirovitch Tsvetaev had planned to establish at Moscow University a special museum of casts from classical sculpture pieces, but even before its opening Tsvetaev decided that the exposition must include some original pieces, primarily paintings. The final turn of his mind took place at the end of the 1900's, when the Museum was offered collections of original art-pieces of high value. Among those was the collection of diplomat Mikhail Schokin including unique monuments of Italian painting of the 14th-15th centuries, that formed the cornerstone of the Museum's painting collection. In 1924 the picture gallery became a separate section within the Museum.