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Neri, Antonio

1. Dates
Born: Florence, 29 Feb. 1576
Died: Pisa or Florence, c. 1614
Dateinfo: Death Uncertain
Lifespan: 38
2. Father
Occupation: Physician
His father, whose name we do not know (although we do know that the father's father was named Jacopo) was a physician.
As always, I assume then that Neri grew up in affluent circumstances.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian, Belgian Area
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: No University
There is no information. According to older accounts, he learned the art of glassmaking at Murano, but Zecchin very effectively casts doubt on that tradition. At any rate, somewhere he learned to make glass, and he continued his studies of this and other chemical arts in the Low Countries.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He was ordained a priest before 1601.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Chm (Chemical Technology), Alchemy, Iatrochemistry
Neri is remembered only for L'arte vetraria (1612), a little book in which many of the closely guarded secrets of glassmaking were printed for the first time.
He was known in the 17th century also as an alchemist, and his patron, Don Antonio Medici, is known to have been deeply involved in alchemy.
Neri also called himself a cultivator of the Spagyrical art.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Unknown, Patronage
Almost nothing is known with certainty about him, except that he was ordained a priest before 1601. It used to be asserted that he led a wandering life, but Zecchin pretty well demolishes that. Zecchin establishes that Neri worked in Florence and Pisa in the early years of the century experimenting with glass, but Zecchin finds no information about how Neri supported himself. From about 1604 to 1611 he was at Antwerp, lodging in the house of a Portuguese noble who was as absorbed in Neri's studies as Neri himself was. Neri published his book and spent the last years of his life in northern Italy.
8. Patronage
Type: Aristrocrat
In Antwerp Neri lived in the house of Emanuel Zimines, a Portuguese noble excited by Neri's studies.
Neri dedicated L'arte vetraria to Don Antonio Medici, whom I am categorizing as an aristocrat, although there is considerable ambiguity about his status.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Chemistry, Pharmacology
His L'arte vetraria (1612) contains many of the secrets of glassmaking which were printed for the first time. I categorize this, without hesitation, as chemical.
Neri himself mentioned his medical researches as a spagyrist.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Luigi Zecchin, "Lettere a prete Neri," Vetro e silicati, 8 (1964), 17-20. Far more information about Neri here than anywhere else.
  2. -----, "Il libro di prete Neri," Vetro e silicati, 7 (1963), 17- 20.
  3. J. Ferguson, Bibliotheca chemica, 2, (Glasgow, 1906), 134-5.
  4. Z5524 .A35 G54.
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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