Ignazio Danti

A brief biography.

Pellegrino Danti was a mathematician and cosmographer, born at Perugia, Italy, 1537. He learned the rudiments of painting and architecture from his father and aunt, but mathematics and science were his favourite studies.
He received the Dominican habit 7 March 1555, changing his baptismal name to Ignazio.
About 1567 he was invited to Florence by Cosmo I, Duke of Tuscany, who wished to avail himself of his services in reviving mathematical and astronomical studies in his newly acquired dominion.

During his stay in Florence Danti taught mathematics with much success and may be said to have prepared the way for Galileo and his contemporaries. He resided at the priory of Santa Maria Novella, and designed the first gnomon on the facade of its church in 1572. He was chosen to direct the building of a canal, which was to place Florence in communication with both the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.
Cosmo did not live to carry out his project and shortly after his death (1574) Danti became professor of mathematics at the University of Bologna. While occupying this chair he spent some time in his native city, at the invitation of the governor, where he prepared maps of the Perugian republic.

On account of his mathematical attainments Gregory XIII invited him to Rome, appointed him pontifical mathematician and made him a member of the commission for the reform of the calendar. He also placed him in charge of the painters whom he had summoned to the Vatican to continue the work so brilliantly begun by Raphael during the reign of Leo X and at the same time desired him to make a number of maps of ancient and modern Italy.

When the pontiff commissioned the architect Fontana to repair the Claudian harbour it was Danti who furnished the necessary plans. While at Rome Danti published a translation of a portion of Euclid with annotations and wrote a life of the architect Vignola, preparing also notes for the latter's work on perspective.

In recognition of his labours Gregory, in 1583, made him Bishop of Alatri in the Campagna. Danti showed himself a zealous pastor in his new office. He convoked a diocesan synod, corrected many abuses, and showed great solicitude for the poor.
Shortly before his
dead Sixtus V summoned him to Rome to assist in the erection of the grand obelisk in the piazza of the Vatican.
Danti died at Alatri 10 October 1586.
Besides the works already mentioned,
Danti was the author of "Trattato del'uso e della fabbrica dell'astrolabo con la giunta del planifero del Raja"; "Le Scienze matematiche ridotte in tavole", also a revised and annotated edition of "La Sfera di Messer G. Sacrobosco tradotta da Pier Vincenzio Danti".


By request of Pope Sixtus V (13.12.1521 - Pope 24.04.1585 - 27.08 1590, Danti was concerned by the movement of the Egyptian obelisk 25,50 metres long, and 327.000 kg. heavy, on Saint Peter's Square on 14th September 1586.

Italy 1924, Mi 209, Sc  b23.


Fresco: Angel above the map of Malta by Ignazio Danti (1536-1586)
for the
Palace, Rome.
Angel with sword in hand, civil - or penal code and the Maltese Cross.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta
.M.O.M.),1982, cat. Haberer nr. 205.


Fresco by Ignazio Danti (1536-1586): Poland, Moravia and Hungary, - mission-regions of Cyril and Methodius - in the loggia on the third floor of the Vatican Palace, Rome.

Vatican City 1963, Mi 437, Sc 370.



Fresco of Venice by Ignazio Danti (1536-1586) in the
Galleria dell
e Carte Geografice, Vatican Palace, Rome.

Vatican City 1972, Mi 600-603; Sc 519 a/d.



Ignazio Danti (1536-1586), on relief by C. Melloni on the tomb (1723) of Pope Gregory XIII by Camillo Rusconi (1568-1728)
in S.Peter, Rome.
Danti was as astronomer involved in the calendar-reform
of 1582.

Vatican City 1982, Mi Bl 4; Sc 717.


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