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Ghini, Luca

1. Dates
Born: Imola, c. 1490
Died: Bologna, 4 May 1556
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 66
2. Father
Occupation: Lawyer
His father was a notary in Imola.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Bologna, M.D.
He studied medicine at Bologna, earning an M.D. in 1527. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Primary: Bot, Pharmacology
Subordinate: Medicine, Natural History
The pioneer in the creation of the first botanical gardens (in Pisa in 1543 and, after a second was created in Padua, in Florence in 1545) in the 16th century and in the collection of the earliest herbaria (both of which explicitly served the ends of pharmacology), Ghini exerted his influence primarily through correspondence and teaching. His only published works--and those long after his death--were minor medical tracts. Much more important is the letter to Mattioli, published as I placiti di Luca Ghini intorno a piante descritte nei commentarii al Dioscoride di P.A.Mattioli.
Ghini also collected in natural history in general--minerals and animals.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Medicine, Patronage
Secondary: Government
He was appointed to read "medicina practica" at the University of Bologna in 1527, became lecturer on Simples in 1535. In 1537 he began to hold an associate chair on simples, and a professorial chair in 1539. From 1544 to 1554 he was professor of simples at Pisa, and he returned to lecture at Bologna in 1554.
Ghini founded the Botanical Garden (Orta dei semplici) in Pisa in 1544--the first academic botanical garden and the first establishment of an institution for research and teaching.
He is described as a highly regarded physician. Around 1536 he was a municipal physician in Fano with a stipend of 225 florins--a position held contemporaneously with his chair at Bologna. It is not known how long this appointment lasted.
While Ghini was in Pisa, Cosimo, who presumably had this partly in mind when he sought out Ghini and appointed him, utilized him as his physician.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Instruments, Medical Practice, Pharmacology
He was actively involved in the creation of botanical gardens at Pisa and at Florence. He introduced, probably for the first time, the herbarium or hortus siccus, the technique of pressing and drying plants. Although there is obvious ambiguity, the technique of drying seems essentially identical to the creation of a new instrument.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Ghini was the teacher of Cesalpino, Aldrovandi, Mattioli, Anguillara, Merini, Odoni, Calzolari, Michiel, and Maranta. The botanical garden that he created in Pisa can be properly regarded as the first institution for scientific research and teaching.
He corresponded with Aldrovandi. De Toni published five of his letters to Aldrovandi (Padua 1905).
  1. G.B. De Toni, "Luca Ghini", in A. Mieli, ed., Gli scienziati italiani, 1, (Rome, 1921). Z7407 .I8S4.
  2. A. Chiarugi, "Nel quarto centenario della morte di Luca Ghini," Webbia, 13 (1957), 1-14.
  3. L. Sabbatani, "Alcuni documenti di la vita di Luca Ghini," Atti e memorie della R. Accademia di scienze, lettere ed arti, (Padua), n.s. 39 (1923), 243-248.
  4. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 (1895), 81, and 27 (1901), 54.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. R. Savelli, "A l'occasione du 4e centenaire de la mort de Luca Ghini," in VIIIe congrès internationale d'histoire des sciences, (Florence, 1956).
  2. G.B. De Toni, "I placiti di Luca Ghini (primo lettore di semplici in Bologna) intorno a piante descritte nei commentiarii al Dioscoride di P.A. Mattioli," Memorie de R. Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 27 (1907).
  3. O. Mattirolo, "Luca Ghini," in Encl. italiani, 16 (1952), 916.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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