Public Art : Dante Statue
Sculptor : © Enrico Pazzi (1819-1899)
Date Unveiled : Unveiled in 1865 on the sixth
centenary of Dante's birth.
Description : Carrara marble statue of Florentine
poet Dante Alighieri (c.June 13, 1265 – September 13th or 14th, 1321). Placed high on a plinth surrounded
by lions. Dante is clutching his robes around his body and has an eagle at his feet.
Location : To the side of Piazza di Santa
Croce, Florence, Italy. Originally the statue was placed in the middle of the Piazza but was later moved
to the side as it was interfering with the Calcio Storico the annual historical soccer game (which is
still played to this day).
History of the Dante Statue : The Dante Statue was
created by sculptor Enrico Pazzi, in honor of the great poet's birthday (six centuries later). The event was a huge
public spectacle with the unveiling conducted in front of the King of Italy and the people of Florence.
Who Was Dante? : Durante degli
Alighieri (c.1265 – September 14th, 1321) was better known as Dante, "The Supreme Poet".
Enrico Pazzi Controversy : For centuries there has
been a fight over the remains of Dante. Having being exiled from his beloved Florence, Dante's bones remained in
Ravenna despite numerous efforts to have them returned to Florence. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused
to comply, and decided to hide the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Well, blow me down if an envelope wasn't
found in the National Central Library of Florence, in 1999, containing ashes believed to be that of Dante. No
one saw that one coming. To cut a long story short, it was believed the box containing the skeleton of Dante, was
eventually found by workmen at the two chapels of Rasponi and Braccioforte, in Ravenna, in 1865. The filthy
box was placed on a carpet whilst the remains were examined. Here is where Enrico comes in . It is rumored
that the sculptor, in an act of devotion to the great poet, swept up the dust from the carpet, thinking there may
be some fragments of the bones mixed with the dust. He placed the "dust" in several envelopes (sounds a
tad loopy to me) and then gave them to the director of the National Library in Florence, in 1889. Over a
hundred years later one of those envelopes was discovered, starting a flurry of interest. Enrico should have just
kept chiseling, I say.