NYC PARKS REDEDICATES DANTE ALIGHIERI STATUE ON 700th ANNIVERSARY OF THE POET’S DEATHNYC PARKS REDEDICATES DANTE ALIGHIERI STATUE ON 700th ANNIVERSARY OF THE POET’S DEATH
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
NYC Parks celebrated the centennial rededication of the recently conserved Dante Alighieri statue yesterday – the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death. Manhattan Borough Commissioner William T. Castro was joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal; Lincoln Square Business Improvement District President Monica Blum; Italian Consul General Fabrizio Di Michele; Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York Fabio Finotti; Dante Society of America President and NYU Professor Alison Cornish; Director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo Stefano Albertini; Dean of the Calandra Italian American Institute and President of the NY Chapter of the Società Dante Alighieri Anthony Tamburri; Founder and President of the Institute for Italian American Experience Mico Delianova Licastro, and community members. The ceremony included a musical performance and reading by students from La Scuola d’Italia and a poetry reading by acclaimed actor and narrator Edoardo Ballerini.
“We are honored to join officials, scholars, artists, and partners in celebrating Dante Alighieri and the sculpture that honors him,” said Borough Commissioner Castro. “One hundred years after the statue’s dedication and seven hundred since the great Italian poet’s death, his literary impact continues to inform and inspire us. Thanks to the hard work of our monuments crew and City Cleanup Corps staff, the statue is now fully conserved and ready to stand for another century.”
Located opposite the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the larger-than-life-sized bronze sculpture depicts Italian Renaissance author and poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). Artist Ettore Ximenes (1855–1926) sculpted the bronze figure and garland affixed to the monument’s granite-clad pedestal, which was designed by the architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore. The monument was dedicated in 1921, on the 600th anniversary of Dante’s death.
As part of the Citywide Monuments Conservation Program (CMCP), NYC Parks staff fully conserved the statue with the help of City Cleanup Corps (CCC) apprentices in August. The two-week conservation involved chemical patination and recoating the bronze with a traditional hot wax finish, as well as cleaning the granite base and repointing the pedestal’s failed masonry joints. The monument was last refurbished through CMCP in 2001.
"If Dante were alive today, he’d be 756 years old—he’s one of the Upper West Side’s oldest residents," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "And thanks to the preservation efforts of the NYC Parks Department and the City Cleanup Corps, he doesn’t look a day over 100!"
“We praise NYC Parks for this event and the restoration work on the statue of Dante, right in the year of the 700th anniversary of his death,” said the Consul General of Italy in New York, Hon. Fabrizio Di Michele. “Dante is a precursor and a symbol of the Italian language and culture and it is very important to be able to commemorate him in New York, which is one of the most 'Italian' cities outside Italy!”
“The Dante Alighieri Statue in Dante Park is such a historical and cultural gem of the Lincoln Square neighborhood, and we are deeply grateful to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for the recent restoration work that will allow the statue to shine as a beacon of inspiration in our community for another century,” said Monica Blum, President of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.
“In his Divine Comedy, Dante creates the Italian language, bringing within it other languages and other cultures. We still venerate Dante's image today because his poetry addresses not only Italians but to all men, teaching them that language is a magnificent tool for connecting differences and multiple identities, not for erasing them,” said Fabio Finotti, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.
“Today Dante takes off his mask!” said Alison Cornish, NYU Professor and Chair of Italian Studies and President of The Dante Society of America. On behalf of The Dante Society of America, I thank the NYC Parks Monuments Conservation Program and the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District for their maintenance and renewal of this sculpture, which represents a piece of immigrant history, making the medieval poet part of the present-day urban fabric of New York City.”
About NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program
A public-private partnership founded in 1997, CMCP is a conservation program dedicated to preserving the NYC Parks’ rich sculptural legacy and cultural heritage. CMCP has won the Mayor’s Special Recognition Art Commission Award, a prestigious Lucy Moses Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and was the recipient of the first place award from the national Save Outdoor Sculpture/Heritage Preservation Program.