Pietro Chiesa Foundation

Pietro Chiesa is one of the major Ticino painters active between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. He trained at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. The Lombard capital was his place of residence until 1917. Between 1920 and 1950, he became a leading figure in art in Ticino and a point of reference for Swiss art. Until 1950, he can be considered the emblematic artist of the Canton, taking on the role of spokesman for Ticino art already held by Vincenzo Vela some time before. The qualities of the artist, in his highest achievements, and the relevance of the cultural figure make him a key, important personality in the history of Ticino in the first half of the century. A friend of Amiet, Giacometti, Haller and Baud-Bovy, Pietro Chiesa played a fundamental role in the delicate relations between the Italian and German-French cultural worlds. The Museo d'arte Mendrisio possesses the largest collection of works by the artist, a key figure in the history of art and, in general, in the culture of 20th century Ticino, especially in the first half of the century. The material conserved in the Museum's storerooms is extremely rich and leaves no gaps in the knowledge of the artist's career (1895-1959).
370 works by the artist, including preparatory studies for important public works and some works by Italian and Ticinese friends and colleagues. Thanks to the exhibition held at the Museo d'arte Mendrisio in 2004 and partly re-presented at the National Museum of Prangins (Nyon), the study of archive material has revealed the central role of the painter Pietro Chiesa not only in the artistic history of Ticino and Lombardy in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, but also in the wider political and cultural context of the canton. The thick and extensive correspondence and documentation (photos, notebooks, catalogues, magazines and newspapers), now conserved together with the works that have come to the Art Museum, constitute an exceptional observatory for the scholar of Ticinese history.