21 March – 21 June 2016 in Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Padua

URBANO LUCCHESI (1844-1906)

Monument to the Astronomer, Prof. Giovambattista Donati, 1875

Carrara marble, 660×440 mm

INAF-Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, inv. Coll. Scient. e Museali n. 107005034

This marble bust of Donati was commissioned thanks to a public subscription in which astronomers, university and college professors, politicians and private citizens took part. It is one of the first works of Urbano Lucchesi, then a student of Giovanni Dupré (1817-1882) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. Lucchesi later became artistic director of the Ginori porcelain manufactory at Doccia; he sculpted various statues dedicated to the Italian Risorgimento, especially in his native Lucca. Because of the vicissitudes of the Observatory, the bust was placed in Arcetri over 20 years after its completion. In 1899 it was placed over a door in the meridian hall of the Observatory. The remaining funds from the subscription were used for the construction of the Arcetri Solar Tower. In the 1960s it was held in storage at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, where it was exposed in the telescopes hall. It has finally been brought back to Arcetri in June 2015 on the occasion of the Starlight exhibition. It bears the artist’s signature and the year of making carved on its back.

The bust reproduces Donati’s picture taken by photographer Giacomo Brogi (1822-1881) aroundl 1870. A copy in Carte de Visite format (mm 60 x 100) is also shown, with an authograph dedication to Camille Flammarion (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Archivio Storico, fondo Donati).

Bibl.: BIANCHI ET AL. 2015.