Daniele Galleni

Setting the First World War: A series of sketches by Galileo Chini

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The Italian painter and decorator Galileo Chini (1873-1956) is not immediately associated with works of art depicting the horrors of the First World War. Still, he dedicated several paintings during the after war decade to the memory of the conflict. Among these, two pieces represent an episode from the battlefront: the assault on the Flondar trench on May 1917 and the death of the young Italian soldier Federico Grifeo. A sheet of sketches by Chini shows the scene of the death as a work in progress, with different studies to construct the composition, revealing the artist’s different ideas and his references to ancient visual sources as Michelangelo. A few notes by the painter in the same sheet, referring to some volumes regarding the Italian soldier who received a golden medal published around ten years later, allow us to date the paintings to the end of the Twenties (maybe for a public competition) and reveal them as an illustration of the episode as narrated in the book.

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