November 9, 2015 Dante's 750th Birthday Anniversary To Be Celebrated

Dec. 3 Event To Include Panel Discussion and Display

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Lucia Wolf (202) 707-2256
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The Library of Congress is marking Dante’s 750th birthday anniversary with a panel of distinguished scholars who will talk about the great Italian poet’s influence on music, American art and popular culture, philosophy, science and the law.

The event, “Dante Alighieri at the Library of Congress,” will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Immediately following, at 5:30 p.m., a display, in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the Madison Building, will showcase unique treasures in the Library’s collections relating to Dante. The panel and display are free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The celebration is hosted by the Library’s European Division, its Poetry and Literature Center, its Rare Book and Special Collections Division and its John W. Kluge Center, in partnership with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C.

Featured speakers include Francesco Ciabattoni, Georgetown University; Kristina Marie Olson, George Mason University; Bernardo Piciché, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Eugenio Refini, Johns Hopkins University.

The celebration underscores the continuity and originality of scholarly research on Dante in the United States and in the nation’s capital. The Library holds more than 5,000 collection items related to Dante. The collection includes 11 incunables—books printed before 1500—of “The Divine Comedy” and other works written by Dante from 1477 to 1497. Among them is the first edition with a full commentary of “The Divine Comedy” printed in 1477 by Wendelin of Speier in Venice; and, from the Rosenwald Collection, a folio copy of “The Divine Comedy,” printed in 1481 by Nicolaus Laurentii in Florence, with woodcuts inspired by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). The Dante holdings also contain at least 52 rare books from the period 1502 to 1796, including the 1502 “Aldine” edition of “The Divine Comedy,” printed in Venice by the most famous Renaissance printer, Aldus Manutius.

Other noteworthy treasures include the highly stylized illustrations of “The Divine Comedy” by John Flaxman (1755-1826); the satirical cartoons of Dante by Art Young (1866-1943); and prints of the “Dante Inferno” etchings by Ronald Kowalke (1936- ). In the Library’s Manuscript Division, there are the unpublished books “The Italian Lyric Poets” and “The Life and Time of Dante,” authored by Richard Henry Wilde (1789-1847), who was the U.S. representative from Georgia during the 14th session of Congress (March 4, 1815 to March 4, 1817).

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 15-203
ISSN 0731-3527