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Luigi Lanzi

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An Italian archeologist, b. at Mont Olmo, near Macerata, in 1732; d. at Florence in 1810. In 1749 he joined the Society of Jesus, on the suppression of which, in 1773, the Grand-Duke of Tuscany made him assistant director of the Florentine Museum and curator (antiquario) in 1776. His tomb is in the church of S. Croce, near that of Michael Angelo. He applied himself early to the study of ancient and modern literature (Cicero, Dante, Firenzuola), filled several times chairs of rhetoric, and was elected a member of the literary society of the "Arcadians" (where he was called Argilio Celerio). He wrote in Florence his excellent "Guide to the Museum" (1780), published in the "Giornale di Pisa" (1782). As an archeologist, particularly with regard to Etruscan subjects, Marini styles him the Varro of the eighteenth century. His "Saggio di lingua etrusca e di altre antiche d'Italia" appeared at Rome in 1789 (3 vols.). It was followed by different treatises of the same tenor on ancient paleography, on some ancient vases, and other antiquities. He won still more widespread reputation by his history of modern Italian painting (Storia pittorica dell' Italia dal risorgimento delle belle arti fin presso al fine del XVIII secolo, 3 vols., Bassano, 1795-96). This work, often reprinted (lastly at Venice, 1837-39), was translated into German, French, and English (twice in the latter tongue, by Roscoe, London, 1828, and by Evans, abridged, London, 1831). Lanzi describes the Schools of Art and their development, and opens his narration with the Florentine artists of the thirteenth century, whom he looks upon as the preservers and revivers of art in Italy. He is remarkable for his widespread learning, his masterful grasp of his subject, his sound judgment, and the classic simplicity of his beautiful diction. He never lost his interest in Greco-Roman antiquity, and published at Florence, as late as 1808, a critical edition of Hesiod's "Works and Days", with a Latin and an Italian translation (the latter in three-line stanzas). His qualities as a writer matched his proficiency as a humanist, and he published at Florence (1807) three volumes of "Inscriptiones et Carmina"; he left numerous translations from Catullus, Theocritus, and others, either printed or in manuscript form. Lanzi was always a devout and ascetic priest. A collection of his edifying works on the Sacrament of the Altar, on the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and on St. Joseph, was published at Rome in 1809.

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