Anichini family [Annichini; Nichini; Nichino]
Italian family of gem-engravers. Francesco Anichini (b Bagnacavallo, fl 1449–1526; d ?1545), active in Ferrara, was highly praised by his contemporaries, including Vasari and Jacopo Tagliacarne (fl late 15th century). He was also criticized for being self-willed and slow-working. From 1492 to 1497 he is recorded as having worked for Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, who referred to him in a letter as ‘il migliore maestro d’Italia’. Documents indicate that Francesco supplied her in 1492 with a turquoise Head of a Child, some rubies and a cameo, in 1494 with gems for rings and in 1496 with two turquoises with figures of Orpheus and Victory, after a design by the Marchioness, and a gem with a symbolic emblem (all untraced). For a physician from Ferrara, Francesco carved a glow-worm in lapis lazuli (untraced) in such a way that the natural gold veins of the stone appeared as the luminous parts of the insect’s body. In 1500 Francesco moved his atelier to Venice; in a document of 1505 he is referred to as ‘famigliare del Duca di Ferrara’ and in 1519 the Anichini family received honorary citizenship of Ferrara. Francesco had five sons: Luigi Anichini (b Venice, ?1500–10; d Ferrara, after 1559); Andrea Anichini (fl 1526–53); Callisto Anichini (b Ferrara, before 1527; d Venice, ?1553); Alvise Anichini and Pietro Anichini, who were also gem-engravers and worked in Ferrara and Venice. Luigi has often been confused with his father and, like him, received lavish contemporary praise from Vasari and others. Until 1540 he had a house in Ferrara but lived most of the time in Venice, where his friends included Titian and Sansovino. In that year a Ganymede in lapis lazuli is recorded, in 1544 a carnelian with Apollo and a cameo portrait of Giovanni delle Bande Nere and in 1547 a seal with a head of Medusa for Pietro Aretino (all untraced). Luigi maintained the good relations established by his father with the court of Ferrara and Isabella d’Este. Of the other brothers, it is known that Callisto was also a jeweller and was probably active in Venice, where it is thought that he worked with his father.
- G. Baruffaldi: Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi, 2 vols (Ferrara, 1841–46)
- E. Kris: Meister und Meisterwerke der Steinschneiderkunst, 2 vols (Vienna, 1929)
- C. G. Bulgari: Argentieri, gemmari e orafi d’Italia: Notizie storiche e raccolta dei loro contrassegni con la riproduzione grafica dei punzoni individuali e dei punzoni di stato, 5 vols (Rome, 1958–74)