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New sections of the model made by Dieter Coellen with the advice of Professor Valentin Kockel

Museum number: MR1.A

Curatorial note

This section of the model was made to replace the section of the model cut away and lost when it was reduced in size in the 1890s.

Amongst the challenges of the Opening up the Soane restoration project was that of conserving and putting back on public display Soane’s more than 100 architectural models – the largest and most significant collection in Britain - as part of the recreation of his Model Room on the second floor of 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields. A small number required major restoration, including the cork model of Pompeii itself. This great model, showing Pompeii as it was in 1820, was cut almost in half in the 1890s when the model stand was reduced in size to make it easier to accommodate within the Museum when the original model room was disbanded.

The section which was removed was not kept and has been missing for more than one hundred years. In 2009, with the help of generous funding from the Leche Trust, the Museum commissioned the cork model-maker Dieter Coellen, whose atelier is in Bonn, to reconstruct the missing half, and he and his colleague Johannes Fischer made this in Germany over the winter of 2009–10 and brought it to London in February 2010. The new section was set up alongside the original sections, which Dieter and Johannes then repaired and cleaned. The final stage was to tint the new cork so that although it will be obvious to anyone looking carefully that part of the model (this section MR1.A) has been re-made, it does not jar. The result was extremely impressive but was then carefully crated up and put into store pending the restoration of the stand and its final installation in 2015.

Dieter Coellen wrote in Soane Museum Newsletter 24, Spring/Summer 2010:

‘When I received the honour of being asked to restore the original beauty and magic of Soane’s famous model stand by recreating the missing part [pf the Pompeii model], I saw this as a challenge, because not often do you have the chance as an artist to join forces with a great, now deceased, master via his works. As there were no blueprints for the reconstruction, research was based on old Soane-period watercolours and drawings. It soon became clear that the missing section of the model, including the Forum Triangolare, must have depicted volcanic ash. This part of Pompeii had not been totally excavated around the year 1820. With the scientific support of Pompeii expert Professor Valentin Kockel of the University of Augsburg and meticulous attention to detail, I and my partner, Johannes Fischer, gradually managed to develop a feeling for the correlations.

While moulding the masses of ash from cork, we took special care to make the drama of the eruption and its consequences visible. Thus the relics of buildings and streets disappear to some extent into those ‘gentle’ hills of ash. The excavations themselves we made from plaster and cork, just as in the antique model, and then adjusted the colour to match the original early nineteenth-century section. However, it is only on the model stand itself and then in the restored Model Room that the work will be emotionally comprehensible and hopefully become a new attraction for Sir John Soane’s Museum.’

Today, this new section, meticulously recreated by the world's only remaining cork-modeller working in the same way as those of Sir John Soane's own day, sits triumphantly alongside the surviving original section (MR1) providing the opportunity for visitors to once again appreciate the scale and beatuy of the orignal model and its didactic setting at the centre of Soane's Model Room.

Associated objects

MR1, other part


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk