FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE, 1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, SWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, & GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO, ENGLISH || VITA
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FLORENCE'S PROTESTANT CEMETERY

OUR APPEAL TO AMERICA


This Protestant Cemetery in Florence is a means to studying the history in exile of Americans, British, Russians and Swiss. We seek your help in saving this treasure. We need to restore its American tombs (we have over 80 American burials), about which we held the fifth international conference on The City and the Book at Florence's Lyceum Club, 11 October 2008, on the Americans in Florence in the nineteenth century.

The beautiful but abandoned Swiss-owned Protestant/Orthodox Cemetery in Florence was first bought from the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in 1827. The Cemetery was then closed in 1877, following 50 years of intense use, when the medieval city wall was torn down, following which it could only be used for the burial of ashes, not bodies. Some of the American burials precede its closure, others, of ashes, were later. Quite often, Americans had themselves buried in lead, then shipped to the States.

These fifty years were a time of great cultural energy for the Florence of the Risorgimento, briefly the capital of Italy, in which Americans, as well as English and Russians participated fully. Sculptors like Hiram Powers and Joel Tanner Hart came here. Anti-slavery advocates like Theodore Parker, his tomb visited by Frederick Douglass, and Richard Hildreth came here, there also being buried here the black Nubian Nadezhda (Hope) who came to Florence at 14 with Jean-François Champollion and Ippolito Rosselini's 1828 expedition, funded by the Grand Duke, her story being told on the marble of her tomb in Russian in Cyrillic characters, while Lord Leighton sculpted a broken slave shackle on Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb, for her family had been slave owners in Jamaica but which she passionately hated, writing her famous sonnet on the American Hiram Powers' 'The Greek Slave', the sculpture that had been at the centre of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition and her ballad 'The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point'. English Fanny Trollope, who lived for a while in Cincinnati, and who is buried here, wrote the first anti.slavery novel, Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw; the American Unitarian Richard Hildreth, the second, The Slave; Harriet Beecher Stowe copied both of them.

     

Among the American Consuls were Hiram Powers and James Lorimer Graham, the latter having his portrait medallion sculpted by Launt Thompson, and who created a fine library and collection of art, which Daniel Willard Fisk, who lived in Walter Savage Landor's Fiesole villa, would in turn follow with his magnificent collection of books on Italian and Icelandic writers, now at Cornell University. Henry Adams' sister, Louise Adams Kuhn, is buried here following her death from tetanus in Bagni di Lucca, and The Autobiography of Henry Adams describes this in his 'Chaos' chapter.

Not all Americans who visited Florence came to be buried here but these tombs record their friendships: Henry James was to write of Isa Blagden; Nathaniel Hawthorne having written of Isa Blagden and Theodosia Garrow Trollope in his Miriam in The Marble Faun; and Sophia Hawthorne of Hiram Powers and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in her Diary; while Margaret Fuller was likewise Elizabeth Barrett Browning's friend, and who becomes the eponymous heroine of Aurora Leigh, complete with the Brook Farm phalanstery in the nine-book epic Elizabeth wrote following Margaret's drowning with her baby and Italian husband off Fire Island, Emerson sending Thoreau to look for their bodies.

      

Emily Dickinson

Elizabeth Barrett Browning is England's greatest woman poet. A photograph of her tomb by Lord Leighton was treasured by Emily Dickinson, America's greatest poet, and this and Aurora Leigh be alluded to in her 'The soul selects her own society' and other poems. See http://www.florin.ms/emperor.html. In this pre-1870 postcard photograph, one can see the ivy-covered medieval wall as still present.

        

This 2006 photograph shows the newly-restored tomb and the laurel wreath laid on it by the city of Florence to honor Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Bicentennial. From her tomb and those of our Americans one can see the dome of Florence's great cathedral.

Many American babies are buried here, one with a poignant poem about his being by the shores of Florence's Arno River, Italy being then subject to diseases like malaria, about which Henry James wrote, though several of Florence Nightingale's friends find burial here, including the Unitarian physician Southwood Smith in a tomb with a medallion sculpted by the American Joel T. Hart, and the epitaph by Leigh Hunt that he advocated 'fresh air and sunlight in the home/ of the rich poor of happier years to come'.

Many Americans have helped make this web essay possible, among them, Jeffrey Begeal, Carolyn Carpenter, Marilyn Richardson, Robert J. Robertson, Naomi Slipp, Don and Mary Williamson. The Swiss and the English thank them. We shall be even more grateful when the conservation of the American tombs can be carried out (some of which are sculpted by Hiram Powers and by his son, Preston Powers, some by Joel T. Hart, one by William Wetmore Story).

See http://www.florin.ms/americantombs.html, http://piazzaledonatello.blogspot.com



FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE, 1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, SWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, & GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO, ENGLISH || VITA
New: Dante vivo || White Silence