The Chini ceramics of Borgo San Lorenzo, near Florence

The small town of Borgo San Lorenzo, not far from Florence, will be the 40th “City of Ceramics” in Italy and 4th in Tuscany. This thanks to the recognition received by the Italian Ministry of Economic Activities. Certainly a good business card for those wishing to know this artistic reality at the gates of Florence. Without forgetting a nice holiday in a truly delightful still unknown corner of the Tuscan countryside. The Tuscan pottery in Borgo San Lorenzo is identified with the prestigious history of the Manifattura Chini. So finally the Mugello will be included within the great areas of national and international ceramics.

It all started when Galileo Chini founded the “The art of ceramics” factory in Florence in 1896. Soon his cousins Chino, Pietro, Guido and Augusto also entered society. There followed also prestigious prizes and awards at the Turin exhibition (1998-1902) and the 1900 Paris Universal exibition.


The Tuscan pottery of this factory is very beautiful and is often inspired by the Art Nouveau-Liberty floral motifs. We also find female figures with a clear Botticellian influence for some sifted through the Pre-Raphaelites’ experience.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Galileo Chini became one of the leading exponents of Italian Liberty. His fame as an artist also reached the Far East. In fact he was called to Bangkok to paint the Palace of the Throne. In 1906 Galileo and Chino Chini founded the “Fornaci San Lorenzo” factory in Borgo San Lorenzo. The mark was a grill surmounted by a lily in honor of the Christian martyr San Lorenzo patron of the town.

The new factory will produce refined majolica, often characterized by a metallic luster cover. A vast production sector will be dedicated to architectural coatings, which still enrich many of the Mugello buildings. The San Lorenzo furnaces will also produce wonderful stained glass windows, lamps and chandeliers. The factory, after various vicissitudes, still continues to produce artistic ceramics suitable also for contemporary luxury furnishings.

The Chini museum is housed in the beautiful Villa Pecori-Giraldi located in the center of the town of Borgo San Lorenzo. The rooms of the villa were finely decorated in the late nineteenth century by the exponents of the Chini family. It mainly preserves pictorial, ceramic and architectural interventions of the great Galileo Chini. Galileo Chini as already mentioned, is one of the leading exponents of Italian Liberty. The Chini museum also houses a surprising collection of vases, stained glass and artistic objects from the Manifattura Chini (Art of Ceramics and Fornaci San Lorenzo).

The “Chini Lab” educational workshop for children is also part the museum. It is divided in different sections as to give children a truly outstanding artistic and sensorial experience.


In Borgo San Lorenzo and its surroundings a Liberty route was built to allow tourists to better appreciate the Mugello.

The Museum of the Manifattura Chini


LIBERTY STYLE: ART NOUVEAU IN MUGELLO

Galileo Chini

Two centuries ago Chini Manufacturing was founded in Mugello. It is an excellent example of artistic craftsmanship in the production of ceramics.


At the beginning of the 19th century the head of the Chini family, Piero Alessio Chini, a decorator, passed down his passion for the arts to his children and nephews, who, from simple apprentices soon became eclectic, creative and able artists.


One of the family’s most prominent figures was definitely Galileo Chini who, along with his cousin Chino Chini, founded the “San Lorenzo Furnace” manufacturing in 1906, in Borgo San Lorenzo. They produced ceramics and glass works that immediately gained success. At the beginning of the 20th century Galileo Chini became one of the major representatives of Liberty Style (this is the name for Art Nouveau in Italy) in Italy and by 1906 his fame as an artist had reached the far east. In fact, he left for Bangkok to paint the walls the Palace of the Throne with frescoes.


Next, the manufacturing company dressed the thermal spa in Salsomaggiore “Lorenzo Berzieri” in grès ceramic, and Galileo Chini, along with other artists of the period, painted a fresco on a part of it. From 1925 on Chini Manufacturing took part in a number of national and international expositions in which the artwork of Galileo Chini, by this time a renowned decorator and able craftsman, was very much appreciated and valued.


The manufacturing company continued to produce works of great value until 1943 when, following the terrible bombing of Borgo San Lorenzo, which caused extensive damage and many victims, the damage to the company was so great that it could not continue to produce as it once had.


Today we can admire what the descents of Pietro Alessio Chini have created and what time has preserved in the Chini Ceramic Museum in Borgo San Lorenzo, as well as in many buildings all over Italy and the world.

http://www.itinerarioliberty.it

The Chini Archive of Lido di Camaiore

The Lido di Camaiore Chini Archives preserve correspondence and documents that testify to the intensity and versatility of Galileo Chini’s artistic talent throughout his life (1873-1956).

Numerous exhibitions and publications devoted to the artist appeared around the world before and after his death. Chini’s work, which continues to be acquired today, can be seen in major museums and private collections, royal palaces and government and institutional buildings. Art historians and experts study his work and disclose their research in the East and the West.

In this framework, the Chini Archives stands as a point of reference for connoisseurs and admirers of the Master and the Liberty period, of which Chini was the leading exponent in Italy.

Thanks to the curator, Paola Polidori Chini, and on-going contacts and the exchange of ideas and models with Italian and foreign universities and institutions, the Archive is a source of valuable information regarding the period.

The Archive hosts and participates in cultural and tourism events and exchange programmes between the Tuscany Riviera of Versilia and the Far East, especially Thailand.

Galileo Chini: an eclectic artist

The figure of Galileo Chini (1873 – 1956) stands out in the panorama of Italian art between the nineteenth and twentieth century.

With his multifaceted and precocious talent, he excelled in every aspect of art he ventured into. He was a great designer, sublime ceramicist (he founded “L’Arte della Ceramica” and later “Fornaci San Lorenzo”, introducing Art Nouveau into Italian heritage); he was an illustrator, set designer (he made the scenes of the first production of Puccini’s Turandot), urban planner, and painter with a strong personality that ranged from Symbolism to Divisionism to a darker, expressionist final stage.

As an artist of European stature, he participated in all major international exhibitions (London, Brussels, Ghent and St. Petersburg and others) and in Italy in the Venice Biennial and Rome Quadrennial. Chini was commissioned to decorate major public and private buildings and in 1911 he left for Siam to decorate, at the request of King Rama V, the interior of the new Throne Palace of Bangkok, where he created his most extraordinary decorative work. Upon returning to Italy, he continued his unceasing creative output.

He firmly believed in the union of arts and crafts and their fundamental role in the redevelopment of the urban landscape.

He was a member of the commission set up for the restoration of the buildings of the Viareggio Promenade and made the entire decorative structure of the Berzieri Baths in Salsomaggiore. He taught at the Academy of Florence, where Ottone Rosai, Primo Conti and Marino Marini were his pupils. In the final years of his life, Chini focused on an intimate and lyrical style of easel painting, with works denouncing the ravages of World War II and gloomy depictions of death.

The Chini Archive of Lido di Camaiore

The Lido di Camaiore Chini Archives preserve correspondence and documents that testify to the intensity and versatility of Galileo Chini’s artistic talent throughout his life (1873-1956).

Numerous exhibitions and publications devoted to the artist appeared around the world before and after his death. Chini’s work, which continues to be acquired today, can be seen in major museums and private collections, royal palaces and government and institutional buildings. Art historians and experts study his work and disclose their research in the East and the West.

In this framework, the Chini Archives stands as a point of reference for connoisseurs and admirers of the Master and the Liberty period, of which Chini was the leading exponent in Italy.

Thanks to the curator, Paola Polidori Chini, and on-going contacts and the exchange of ideas and models with Italian and foreign universities and institutions, the Archive is a source of valuable information regarding the period.

The Archive hosts and participates in cultural and tourism events and exchange programmes between the Tuscany Riviera of Versilia and the Far East, especially Thailand.

The route for enhancement and appreciation
The Chini Archives development project was established thanks to an institutional partnership that has the enhancement of cultural heritage and the spreading of culture as a common basis.
From 2012, the Chini Archives have undergone intensive reorganisation and inventory carried out by Promo PA Foundation with the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca.
The project had two objectives: the preservation and dissemination of documents, to avert the risk of dispersion and the loss of memory of this extraordinary testimony, and the implementation of the partnership, through the involvement of all those institutional owners of “Chini works”, in order to construct a network capable of contributing to the development of the online database.
The route for enhancement and appreciation developed along two parallel tracks.

The physical reorganization of the paper and photographic documentation and the identification and inventory of the two repositories:

The repository Fondo Galileo Chini (1894-1956)
The repository Fondo Eros e Paola Chini(1957-2012)
The digitization of all the material in the repository Fondo Galileo Chini and the creation of this online Archive which aims to make the great heritage of this Tuscan artist available to the national and international community.

The Chini Archive structure

Partners

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