Addio, il Sommo Poeta - part I

Italian Cast Spelter "Dante Alighieri" Bust (LEO Design)

On this day in 1321 (or was it tomorrow?), Italy's greatest writer, Dante Alighieri, died in-exile in Ravenna, Italy. Banished from his beloved Florence, il Sommo Poeta ("The Supreme Poet") perished—but not before changing the history of Western literature.

Before Dante, serious Italian literature was written in Latin, a language accessible only to the educated elite. Dante wrote in the vulgate, Italian, using the local Tuscan dialect of his home town, Florence.

Additionally, Dante's depiction of the afterlife in his signature work, the Divine Comedy, affected artists' portrayals of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell for centuries to come. Of course, those of us who have looked at that artwork have been affected by Dante, too. Even future writers have credited Dante with shaping their works.

This little bust—"Piccolo Dante"—was cast of spelter in Italy around 1920. Let him provide a little writerly inspiration on your desk or bookshelf. Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.

More about Dante tomorrow.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248