“What emotion can his first major assignment arouse in a young artist?

Climbing the grand staircase of Palazzo Budini Gattai in Via dei Servi in Florence and observing the newly plastered ceiling of the ballroom overlooking the Piazza della SS. Annunziata, could have caused Chini some bewilderment. But the young Galileo suggested to his master, Augusto Burchi, who had been given the task of decorating the ceiling, that they painted it with a large carpet; the idea was approved and work started immediately. This work of 1896 was his first and can still be seen today.

Chini continued his restoration and decoration work in Florence and Volterra, where he met Elvira Pescetti; they married in 1899 and had two children Isotta and Eros.

In the meantime, Galileo had founded the glorious Manifattura Arte della Ceramica in Via Arnolfo in Florence. In 1909, the artist decided to build a house nearby, in Via del Ghirlandaio, to which, on his return from Siam, he added a large studio in 1914. The decorations in the atrium and the dining room of the house, which now houses a school, are still visible.

In 1906 Chini moved his ceramics firm to Borgo San Lorenzo, where he founded the Fornaci San Lorenzo with his cousin Chino. In 1910 he received two important commissions for the ceramic decoration of the Tamerici Baths and the ceiling of the Hotel La Pace, both in Montecatini. On returning from his trip to Siam, Chini received another commission in Montecatini, to decorate of the new Town Hall.

A Chini itinerary through Tuscany would ideally include Chini’s most significant decorative works, for example, for the Cimitero Monumentale della Misericordia in Antella not far from Florence, in the hall of the Palace of the Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia Savings Bank in Pistoia, in the State Archives at Arezzo, in the Lapini Chapel in Subbiano, in the hall of Palazzo Vincenzi (current headquarters of Banca Popolare di Novara) in Pisa and in the Ristorante Paoli in Florence, where a room decorated with scenes of 15th century Florence can be seen.

On the Versilia Riviera, and in particular in Viareggio, Chini created a particularly large group of wonderful ceramic decorations, which still adorn the most beautiful villas lining the promenade in a profusion of colour and light that is reflected in his paintings of that period, the happy season of the “Casa delle Vacanze”

(Paola Polidori Chini)

Today, the numerous artistic and architectural commissions featuring in the work of Galileo Chini, are evident throughout Italy.

This section aims to help travellers discover Chini in Tuscany, where he lived and worked passionately for his entire life.