Antonio Achilli

Antonio Achilli (Rome, 1903–1993) was active from the 1930s to the 1980s, creating works of great size and prominence as well as a prolific production of paintings including portraits, still lifes, landscapes and sacred subjects. 

In 1929, he made his name with the decoration of the great church in Via Merulana and in 1931 with a commission to decorate the Italy pavilion at the Mostra d’Oltremare exhibition in Paris. Then he exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1932. 

Among his major works are the frescoes of Sala Marconi of the Palazzo del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Roma (1935), recently restored, depicting the greats of Italian science from antiquity to the present day, including Archimedes, Lucretius Caro, Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Alessandro Volta and Christopher Columbus. This work earned him a place as a member of the register of Roman Engravers, and he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon.

The Shrine to Fallen Firefighters was built with a semi-elliptical plan with a wall frescoed by the Achilli. This was the largest painted work made in the building complex of the schools, covering 80 square meters on a curved wall, conceptually representing the aid that rescue workers bring to humanity, afflicted by disasters and exposed to the brutality of the elements, (1941).

Antonio Achilli
Antonio Achilli

His major cycles in Roman churches include the crypt of Divine Love (1947), the chapel of St. Colomban in the Vatican Grottoes (1950-52), and the church of St. Mary Immaculate in Via Taranto in Rome (1952), as well as his paintings in Libya, Beirut, and Long Beach, California.

From 1958 on, Achilli became a passionate follower of Padre Pio and his “spiritual child,” which brought him to sacred art felt and understood as a mission. Among his works are the mosaics of the side chapels of the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo and many works based on the figure of his beloved Padre Pio.

He was a Roman artist whose deep sense of humility, religiosity and greatness lets him communicate deep, universal messages to this day.

Achilli died on January 9, 1993.