Where’s Dante?

Bronze-Clad Dante Bust Bookends (LEO Design)

Florentine poet, Dante Alighieri, found himself on the wrong side of a local political dispute. After backing the wrong party, he was banished from his beloved home city-state on point of death.   He moved to Ravenna, some 65 miles away, where he lived and continued writing.  It was during his banishment that he crafted his greatest work, The Divine Comedy.

After his death in Ravenna in 1321, Florence realized the mistake it had made, banishing this greatest of writers. Florence appealed for the return of Dante’s body but Ravenna was not about to surrender the relics.  Popes and artists (including Michelangelo) attempted to cajole Ravenna into repatriating the dead writer’s bones without any luck. Florence even built a grand tomb in the Church of Santa Croce—but to this day, the tomb remains empty.  At one point, when Florence came with soldiers to take the body with force, Franciscan priests hid him in the walls of their church.  Dante seems to have been forgotten there—for it was 350 years later that a workman re-discovered the writer’s remains while doing restoration to the church walls.  Today, Dante lies-at-rest in a handsome, Nineteenth Century tomb in the center of Ravenna.

The bookends above, made in the 1920’s, are sculpted in composite and then electro-plated with solid bronze.  After that, they were patinated to give them a rich, chocolate brown finish.  90 years of age have only improved their stately, handsome color and presence. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.


LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).

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