GALILEO CHINI

Firenze - ITALY, 1873 - 1956

Galileo Chini is an important protagonist of the 20th century Italian ceramics, so much so that 1896, the year of the foundation of his first Manufactory, is now commonly referred to as the start date of this process. After the painting studies at the Scuola Libera del Nudo [‘Liberal School of Life Drawing’] at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, Chini founded with some partners the Manufactory, “L’Arte della Ceramica” [‘The Art of Ceramics’]. The initial allusions to the Tuscan Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite period were soon integrated into a broader knowledge of the European Art Nouveau, becoming the cutting edge for Italian artistic culture, at a time when the historical and symbolistic heritage was still very evident. His researches into the lustre effects combined with further experiences carried out on stoneware. Galileo was assisted in this experience by Chino, Augusto and Pietro Chini. In 1901 the Manufactory was closed and moved to Fontebuoni, near Settignano. In 1904, Galileo and Chino left the Manufactory, to found another one in 1906; the “Fornaci San Lorenzo”, in Borgo San Lorenzo, producing maiolica, stoneware, lustre, glasses and wrought metals. The stylistic repertoire was modernized and also the chromatic tones turned more fiery. The colour range became even bolder after Galileo’s stay in Bangkok. In the 1920s, when the most creative period of the Manufactory was coming to an end, the shapes turned more and more traditional and some analogies with popular pottery arise. The most important commission was in 1919: the stoneware tiling of the Terme Berzieri [Berzieri Spa Building] in Salsomaggiore; the work was finalized in 1923. Galileo Chini’s decorative works include: the entrance at the Venice Biennale in 1908, the Italian Pavillion at the International Expo in Brussels in 1910, the Argentina Theatre in Rome in 1911, the Venice Biennale settings in 1914 and in 1920, the main staircase of the Berzieri Spa Building in Salsomaggiore in 1923, and other interventions in private buildings. In 1929 Galileo began devoting his time only to painting. In 1944 the Manufactory was destroyed in a bombing.