Antonio Chichi

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Temple of Portunus , cork model by Antonio Chichi, exhibited in the Ducal Museum in Gotha

Antonio Chichi (born January 7, 1743 in Rome , † September 30, 1816 in Rome) was a Roman architect who specialized in the production of cork models of ancient buildings as a phelloplastic (cork artist) .


Antonio Chichi was the son of Carlo Chichi and his wife Barbara Cassani and was baptized on January 12, 1743 in the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina . He lived all his life in a house on Vicolo della Lupa. His profession is given as an architect, but no building is known of him. The accuracy of the true-to-scale models, which Chichi probably reproduced true to scale on the basis of own measurements and studies produced on site, speak in favor of training as an architect.

In 1769 Count Ivan Ivanovich Shuvalov sent six models from Chichi to St. Petersburg . In 1772 Chichi is mentioned for the first time as a cork maker. In the 1770s he put together a series of 36 models of ancient buildings. From 1777 to 1782 he made a set for Landgrave Friedrich II of Hessen-Kassel , in 1778 Tsarina Katharina II acquired a set of 36 models, for them Chichi also made a cork model of the Vatican loggias, in 1790/91 a set of models was made for acquired the Landgrave Ludwig X of Hessen-Darmstadt . The Rome-based German art agent Johann Friedrich Reiffenstein (1719–1793) acted as intermediary . In Germany, the models were also offered by the art dealer Carl Christian Heinrich Rost (1742–1798) in Leipzig. His brochure from 1786 names 36 different models with prices between 15 and 168 ducats .

At the latest after the return of Giovanni Altieri to Naples in 1783 and the death of Augusto Rosa in 1784, Chichi was the only artist who produced cork replicas of ancient ruins in Rome.

The models

The models are worked with archaeological accuracy. Often the post-antique additions that were still present at the time are left out and in some cases partial reconstructions of the original state are even attempted. Some models represent buildings that have since been greatly changed or lost.

The buildings are mounted on a wooden support plate and consist of wooden cores to which pieces of cork have been glued to represent the wall surfaces. Often, walls were composed of cuboid pieces of cork. Reliefs and capitals were made of terracotta, whereby they were often typified. Plaster of paris, twigs and moss were used to represent the soil and plants.

The scales are 1: 100 for the larger models and go up to 1:25 for smaller buildings. All models are provided with a scale in Roman palmi . Their dimensions are up to 1.70 × 1.40 m.


Significant collections of Chichi's models are now in the Art Academy in St. Petersburg (34 preserved copies, made around 1774), in Wilhelmshöhe Palace in Kassel (33 models preserved, made 1777–1782), the Hessian State Museum Darmstadt (26 models preserved, Acquired in 1790/91) and the Ducal Museum Gotha (12 models, acquired after 1777/78). Individual models are in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden (three models made in 1786), in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam (one model), in Arolsen Castle (model of the Arch of Titus, before 1782), in the Akademie der Künste Berlin (one of seven models preserved, first issued in 1798), the Archaeological Collection of the University of Ghent and in Rájec nad Svitavou Castle (two models preserved, 1790–1800).

In Carl May , Chichi found an important German imitator whose coveted models also found their way into museums and collections.


  1. Lost today.
  2. display of all art of Rostischen art dealership in Leipzig . Vol. 1, Leipzig 1786, pp. 43-46 ( digitized version ).
  3. Irina Tatarinova: Architectural models at the St Petersburg Academy of Fine Art . In: Journal of the history of collections 18, 2006, pp. 27-39.
  4. Uta Wallenstein: Duke Ernst II as a collector of antiquities. The collection of antique cork models by Antonio Chichi (1743–1816) . In: The Gotha residence at the time of Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1772–1804) . Gotha 2004, pp. 229-244.
  5. ^ Architectural drawings and models of the Prussian Academy of the Arts in the archive of the Academy of the Arts, Berlin .
  6. Koen Verlaeckt: Anthony Chichi Romanus Fecit. An opmerkelijke kurkmaquette uit de archeologische verzameling van de Universiteit Gent . In: Gentse bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis en oudheidkunde 31, 1996, pp. 263-278 (model of the Pantheon).


  • Anita Büttner : Cork models by Antonio Chichi. Origin and succession (= catalogs of the Hessisches Landesmuseum 3). Darmstadt 1969.
  • Anita Büttner: Cork models by Antonio Chichi. Complete catalog of the cork models, Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel (= catalogs of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel 6). Kassel 1980.
  • Anita Büttner:  Chichi, Antonio. In: Alberto M. Ghisalberti (Ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 24:  Cerreto – Chini. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 1980.
  • Andrew John Martin: Chichi, Antonio . In: General Artist Lexicon . The visual artists of all times and peoples (AKL). Volume 18, Saur, Munich a. a. 1997, ISBN 3-598-22758-2 , p. 516.
  • Ancient buildings. Cork models by Antonio Chichi 1777–1782. Catalog edited by Peter Gercke and Nina Zimmermann-Elseify. (= Catalogs of the Staatliche Museen Kassel 26). Kassel 2001, ISBN 3-931787-13-3

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