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Boni, Giacomo

    Image Credit: Archaeologico Venezia

    Full Name: Boni, Giacomo

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1859

    Date Died: 1925

    Place Born: Venice, Veneto, Italy

    Place Died: Rome, Lazio, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): ancient, archaeology, decorative art (art genre), and Roman (ancient Italian culture or period)


    Archaeologist; wrote works on Column of Trajan and decorative art. Boni was orphaned early and attended a commercial school in Venice. At nineteen, he assisted in the Doge’s Palace restoration, but quarreled with the superintendent of the project, Forcinelli, over the restoration. This led to a crusade against over-zealous restoration. In the course of these activities, he corresponded with John Ruskin and William Morris (1834-1896). He entered the Venice Academy, studying architecture. In 1885 he became a corresponding member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. That same year he began excavation of San Marco. As secretary to the Calcografia in Rome, beginning in 1888, he began duties as an inspector of monuments, helping establish a photographic archive as part of the Ministry of Education. He assisted in the Pantheon excavation in 1892 with L. Beltrami (1854-1933) and the architect (and later designer of the Victor Emmanuel monument) Giuseppe Sacconi (1854-1905). In 1898 he was appointed director of the excavation of the Roman Forum. He demolished the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice in order to expose the ruins of Santa Maria Antiqua. His other discoveries included the Archaic cemetery and portions of the Column of Trajan. During World War I he invented a winter camouflage uniform. Toward the end of his life, he embraced fascism and became a senator in 1923. As an archaeologist, Boni was careful to observe strata to the Forum excavations. His finds at the Forum included the Lapis Niger, discovered near the Arch of Septimus Severus. His like-minded contemporaries include Giovanni Teresio Rivoira.

    Selected Bibliography

    “Trajan’s column.” Proceedings of the British Academy, London (1912). vol. 3 p. 93-98; Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venezia. Venice: Stabilimento tipografico dei fratelli Vicentini, 1887; La torre de S. Marco: communicazione. s.l. : s.n., 1903; The Roman marmorarii. Rome: s.n., 1893; “Il duomo di Parenzo ed i suoi mosaici.” Archivio storico dell’Arte 7 (1894) [unnumbered, 28 pp.]


    Whitehouse, David. “Boni, Giacomo.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 171-72.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Boni, Giacomo." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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