Luigi Lanzi, an Italian author, born at Monte dell' Almo, near Fermo, June 14, 1732, died in Florence, March 30, 1810. He was educated by his father and at the Jesuit college in Fermo. He entered the order in 1749, and taught in their schools. After studying theology at Rome for four years, he was professor of the humanities in several colleges. Upon the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, he was appointed assistant director of the gallery of Florence. He studied the Etruscan language and antiquities, making several journeys to collect materials. In 1790 he was appointed archaeologist of the grand duke, in consequence of his Saggio di lingua etrusca. He now devoted himself altogether to archaeological and artistic researches. Toward the close of his life he wrote several devotional books. His most important works are: Descrizione delta galeria di Firenze (Pisa, 1782); Saggio di lingua etrusca (Rome, 1789); and Storia pittorica delta Italia (6 vols., Florence, 1792), a work which he undertook at the suggestion of Tira-boschi, the historian of Italian literature. No general history of Italian painting had previously appeared, and the histories of particular schools were too strongly marked by bias and prejudice to be of any general value.
Lanzi's work was the first comprehensive treatise in which the history of each school is given according to its several epochs, and the first written in a philosophical and impartial spirit. Several editions were published in the author's lifetime, each of which received numerous additions and revisions from his hand. It has been translated into various languages, and is familiar to English readers through the excellent version of Thomas Roscoe, which forms 3 vols, of Bonn's "Standard Library." Lanzi also published a collection of dissertations on Etruscan vases; a book of Latin poems written by himself; a treatise on the ancient Italic languages; a translation of Hesiod's "Works and Days " in terza rima; and Opere sacre, a series of treatises on spiritual subjects, to which he is said to have attached more importance than to any of his other writings.