Luigi Chialiva was born in Caslano in the Italian speaking Canton of Ticino, in Switzerland in 1842, the son of Abbondio Chialiva. He studied in Berne and graduated in architecture from the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich whereupon he worked with Gottfried Semper, the architect who designed, amongst other buildings, the Dresden Opera and Zurich Railway Station.
Chialiva then moved to Milan to study at the School of Art, and with Carlo Mancini (1829-1910). In 1868 he received first prize awarded by the Mylins Foundation for a painting of animals, a subject for which he gained his considerable reputation. He moved to Paris where he remained, although continuing to exhibit in Italy in Turin, and at the Venice Biennial of 1901. His work, idealised rural genre, was at the height of fashion in France where, in the latter half of the 19th century, there was a significant decline in the demand for grandiose historical subject matter and a corresponding increase in that for rustic genre, and Chialiva’s paintings were eminently suited to his market. Chialiva became a respected figure in the Arts in Paris, Edgar Degas (1834-1917) owned a pastel by him, and he became an Associate of the National Beaux-Arts and in 1912 was appointed secretary of the National Salon.
His works can be found in museums in: Sheffield; Luxembourg and Rome.