The Italian Almanac

ceramic artwork by Galileo Chini

Italian Art - July 6

The exquisite ceramics, Oriental-inspired paintings and delicate panels of the Tuscan artist Galileo Chini have gone on display in Rome in one of the largest ever shows devoted to his work. The exhibit at the National Gallery of Modern Art is celebrating the artist's work with a retrospective 50 years after his death. Although famous during his life, Chini's distinctive style fell from fashion for some time but has seen a resurgence in popularity over recent years.

The layout of the exhibit has been carefully designed by the architect Federico Lardera to highlight Chini's use of colour and form. It starts with a collection of ceramics, which comprised the core of his early work and initially spread his reputation. Chini opened his small ceramics factory, together with four friends, in 1896. Although the factory, 'Ceramic Art', had only a limited capacity, the outstanding quality of the work drew attention from across Europe and the US, altering ceramic production styles of the time.

Chini continued working on his tiles until 1930 but also branched out into several other areas. By 1911, Chini's reputation was so widespread that King Rama VI of Thailand summoned him to Bangkok, to decorate his throne-room. The Tuscan artist's stint in the East had a dramatic impact on him, according to one of the show's curators, Fabio Benzi. Chini remained in Siam for three years, until 1914, but even after his return to Italy his work continued to be dominated by Oriental themes.

Galileo Chini: Dipinti, Decorazioni, Ceramiche, Teatro (Galileo Chini: Paintings, Decorations, Ceramics, Theatre) is open daily at Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art until September 10.