Galileo Chini was born here.
The art of shaping clay arose thousands of years ago when man’s creative ingenuity led him to use earth to form everyday objects of extraordinary beauty. The craft of ceramics has ancient roots in the Mugello area.
Shall we take a stroll through the history of the ceramic arts in this area?
- During the Renaissance the noble Florentine de’ Medici family had a ceramics factory built near the splendid Villa di Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello. The set-up of the factory included a kiln and workshop that remained functional until 1599.
- In the early 1900’s the Chini family launched their prestigious ceramics industry in Borgo San Lorenzo. Together with his cousin, Chino Chini, Galileo Chini founded the “Fornaci di San Lorenzo” (The Kilns of San Lorenzo) where they created ceramics and stain-glass windows, and also designed wood furnishings that were finely decorated with tiles, ceramics, and glass. “Le Fornaci di San Lorenzo” manufactured neo-medieval and neo-Renaissance ceramics as well. Numerous pieces of their work, in “Della Robbia” style, adorn the altars and lunettes of parish churches in the Mugello area.
- The “Fornaci” artistic ceramic production quickly obtained great success. In 1910 the King of Siam, Rama V, after having admired the work of Galileo Chini at the Biennale of Venice, invited Chini to work in his court in Bangkok. Chini embarked at Genova for the Far East in 1911.
- Rama V died before Chini’s arrival and his successor, the cultured Rama VI, received Chini in Bangkok. Chini frescoed the throne room of the royal palace and painted several official portraits of the royal family and dignitaries of the court. In 1913 Chini passed through Thailand on his way back to Italy. He returned with a series of landscape and ambiance paintings which he exhibited at the Mostra della Secessione Romana in 1914. He also brought back a collection of Asiatic mementos that he donated to Ethnographic Museum of the University of Florence in 1950.
- Galileo Chini is considered one of the principal exponents of Art Nouveau style in Italy. His art has been experiencing a period of careful re-evaluation. A significant exhibition of his work was held at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna di Roma in 2006. A museum dedicated to the artistic work of the Chini cousins, the Museo della Manifattura Chini, is in the Villa Pecori Giraldi of Borgo San Lorenzo.
Villa Campestri organizes ceramics courses for guests who wish to learn the techniques of bass-relief and in the round sculpture, as well as the molding and decoration of clay. The Resort has also organized picturesque excursions along the “Art Nouveau Itinerary”. During these trips guests can admire the development of Art Nouveau in the Mugello area through examples of work that was created either in the “Fornaci di San Lorenzo” or personally by members of the Chini family.
For further information please contact us via e-mail. It will be a pleasure for us to explain aspects of this course or any of the other exclusive services that we offer in the heart of the Tuscan hills.