Notable Graves of the Non-Catholic Cemetery

The Cemetery is remarkable for the great concentration of artists, writers, scholars and diplomats who have been buried in it. Many had settled in Rome for their work, others had chosen to live in Italy, and yet others died as a result of illness or accident while visiting the country.

The graves most sought out by visitors are those of the English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley; the son of Goethe; Antonio Gramsci , the Italian political philosopher; and the Russian painter Karl Brullov. But there are many others worthy of note for their occupant or for the design of the tomb. The following list is merely a selection.

Johan David Ǻkerblad (1763-1819). Swedish diplomat and orientalist who eventually left the diplomatic service in favour of philological research, settling in Rome in 1809. Speaking fluently Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Persian, he worked on deciphering the Rosetta Stone in 1801-02 while posted to Paris. Nevertheless his scholarly output was small. He died alone and his tomb was raised by friends five years later.

Hendrik Andersen (1872-1940), sculptor, born in Norway, then an immigrant to the USA, he settled in Rome permanently in 1896. With him in the family tomb, which he designed, are buried his mother Helen, his brother Andreas and his wife Olivia, and their adopted sister Lucia, who lived until 1978. He became a friend and correspondent of Henry James, and his portrait bust of James is one of his best. His house-studio in Rome, the Villa Hélène, is a fine example of Art Nouveau architecture and is now a museum of his work.

Jacob Salomon Bartholdy (1779-1825), a Prussian soldier, diplomat and art patron. Appointed Prussian Consul-general in Rome in 1815, he formed a strong friendship with Cardinal Consalvi. He is credited with supporting a revival of fresco painting, employing four German painters to decorate his Palazzo Zuccari in Via Sistina in Rome (destroyed in 1887; some of the frescos and his famed antiques collection are now in Berlin).

Rosa Bathurst (1808-1824) has a tomb designed by the English sculptor Richard Westmacott junior that is notable for its fine reliefs and the moving inscription recording her death by drowning in the river Tiber at the age of 16. Her sudden death shocked a Rome that had admired her beauty, intelligence and charm. Although the tomb was built by 1825, the long inscriptions (in Latin and English) were added only after 1830.

Karl Pavlovich Brullov (1799-1852). Brullov was the first Russian painter to gain recognition in the west, and is regarded as a key figure in the transition from Russian neoclassicism to romanticism. His best-known work, The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833; State Russian Museum, St Petersburg), is a vast composition resulting from a visit to the site in 1827. It was compared by Pushkin and Gogol to the best works of Rubens and Van Dyck and created a sensation when shown in Italy. He lived in Italy for health reasons for the last two years of his life.

Jacob Asmus Carstens (1754-1798), a German/Danish painter (from Schleswig), is considered the founder of the later school of German historical painting. On visits to Rome in 1783 and 1792 he was influenced by the painting of Giulio Romano. He produced some fine subject and historical paintings, e.g. Plato’s Symposium and the Battle of Rossbach. In 1795 a great exhibition of his works was held in Rome, where he died in 1798. Not until 1819 was the present gravestone erected by a group of his admirers.

Gregory Corso (1930-2001), American poet, a younger member of the group of Beat Generation writers (with Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs). Corso discovered literature while in prison as a teenager and started writing poetry. Meeting Ginsberg after his release from prison in 1949, he mixed with other ‘Beat’ writers and saw the rise of the Beat-nik movement. Born of Italian immigrants in New York, he achieved his wish to be buried near Shelley’s grave in Rome.

Carl Philipp Fohr (1795-1818), German landscape and portrait painter, born in Heidelberg. His watercolours of the Neckar region and of Baden, commissioned by the Grand Duchess Wilhelmina of Hesse, are much admired. Walking to Italy, he settled in Rome in 1816, where he produced notable portraits of the Nazarene painters living there before tragically being drowned while swimming in the river Tiber.

Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973), Italian novelist born in Milan and known as the Great Lombard. His novels and short stories are notable for his use of language, diverging from the formal Italian of the pre-War period by introducing technical jargon, dialect and wordplay. He graduated as an engineer and practised until 1935 before concentrating on writing.

Irene Galitzine (1916-2006), fashion designer famous for her creation in the 1960s of ‘Palazzo pyjamas’, worn by the some of the world’s most beautiful women and now acquired by leading museums for their own collections. Born of a Russian prince and Georgian mother, she fled as an infant with her family in the October Revolution of 1917 and settled in Italy.

John Gibson (1790-1866), Welsh sculptor, who first visited Rome at the age of 27 and stayed until he died. Taken under the wing of Canova, he soon won many commissions for portraits and monumental sculpture in the round from patrons in England. He also carved the gravestones in the Cemetery for his younger brother Benjamin and his friend/rival sculptor in Rome, Richard Wyatt.

August von Goethe (1789-1830), the only child of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s five children to reach adulthood, but pre-deceased his father during a visit to Rome. His distraught father provided the gravestone with the inscription ‘son of Goethe’ and a portrait medallion by Bertel Thorvaldsen (now a copy in bronze).

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Italian philosopher and organiser and co-founder of the Italian Communist Party. Gramsci wrote more than 30 notebooks of history and analysis during his imprisonment under Mussolini. These Prison Notebooks contain Gramsci's tracing of Italian history and nationalism, as well as original ideas in Marxist, critical and educational theory, notably the concept of cultural hegemony. He died shortly after release from prison on health grounds.

Johannes Carsten Hauch (1790-1872), Danish poet, playwright and novelist. A prolific writer who, after an early failure as a poet, turned to plays and then novels, such as Vilhelm Zabern (1834) which brought him attention. His writing is now seen as of unequal value, though some of his tragedies and poetry are much admired.

John Keats (1795-1821). Born the son of a stables manager from the East End of London, he left school at 14 and trained as an apothecary, studying medicine and then surgery.Although poor, he gave up medicine for poetry and, in the twelve months from September 1818, he produced an outpouring of major poetry which is unmatched in English. The symptoms of tuberculosis appeared early in 1820, in which year he travelled to Italy in search of a better climate. He died in Rome at the age of 25.

August Kestner (1777-1853), German diplomat and art collector who practiced as a lawyer in Hanover before becoming, in 1818, an official envoy and minister resident in Rome where he spent much of his life. He co-founded and later directed what was to become the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. His antiquities collection is in the Museum August Kestner in Hanover.

Richard Krautheimer (1897-1994), German art and architectural historian who fled Nazi Germany and became a naturalized US citizen. For many years Professor of Fine Arts at New York University, he retired to Rome in 1971 to write Rome: Profile of a City (1980) and The Rome of Alexander VII (1985). His five-volume corpus on the early Christian churches of Rome also remains a fundamental reference.

Belinda Lee (1935-1961), English film actress born in Devon. Now little known but in the 1950s a popular star for her acting ability and her glamorous good looks. Her career changed direction after moving to Italy, only to have it prematurely ended in a car accident while travelling from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. A sculpture of the torso of a draped Classical female figure marks her grave, very close to that of Shelley.

James MacDonald (1741-1766), Scottish baronet renowned as a young man for impressing all whom he met with his extraordinary range of learning. He died in Rome from malaria aged 25. His tomb is one of the earliest in the Cemetery and was designed by G.B. Piranesi (as the inscription relates) who was a close friend of MacDonald’s in Rome.

David Randall-MacIver (1873-1945), English archaeologist who excavated at Great Zimbabwe, proving its indigenous origin, and in Egypt with Petrie. He was curator of Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum (1905-1911), and became a U.S. citizen, but moved to Italy in 1921 to study the Etruscans. He died in New York and is commemorated in the Parte Antica as a benefactor of the Cemetery.

George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), American diplomat and philologist, and pioneer environmentalist. Born in Vermont, which he represented in Congress (1843-1849), in 1861 he was appointed the first U.S. resident minister to the government of Italy, a post he held almost till his death. Known for his wide knowledge of languages, he was also one of the first to raise environmental awareness with his book Man and Nature (1864).

Malwida von Meysenbug (1816-1903), German author, feminist and revolutionary thinker. Because of her democratic and feminist convictions she broke with her family, joining a women’s congregational school in Hamburg and then escaping arrest by fleeing to England. There she taught and translated, while maintaining her wide contacts. She moved to Italy in 1862, supporting herself by writing, which included composing her Memories of an idealist.

P.A. Munch (1810-1863), Norwegian historian, considered the founder of the Norwegian school of history, author of the eight-volume History of the Norwegian People (1851-1863) and editor of Old Norse poetry, saga and mythology. He was one of the first non-Catholics to be allowed access to the Vatican archives, an important source for his research.

Thomas Jefferson Page (1808-1899), American explorer, commander of United States Navy expeditions mapping Argentina and Paraguay. He moved to Argentina and then Europe following the Confederate defeat in the Civil War. The elegant family tomb, consisting of a statue, obelisk, a sarcophagus and two columns, is by the Italian sculptor Ettore Ximenes.

Pier Pander (1864-1919), Dutch sculptor and designer of medals. In 1885 he won the Dutch Prix de Rome for sculpture but did not arrive in Rome until 1890, already suffering from tuberculosis. Despite ill-health he found Rome congenial, receiving many commissions in the Netherlands from Queen Wilhelmina and others. His neo-classical portrait busts and bas reliefs are now being appreciated anew, through the re-opening of the Pier Pander Museum in Leeuwarden and an exhibition devoted to his work in Rome in 2008.

Bruno Pontecorvo (1913-1993), Italian atomic physicist. A student of Enrico Fermi in Rome, he went on to a career of outstanding research in high energy physics. Prevented by the fascist regime from returning to Italy from a research stay in Paris, he moved to Spain, the USA, Canada and Britain before suddenly fleeing with his family in 1950 to the USSR. Since 1995 the Pontecorvo Prize has been awarded internationally for the most significant research in elementary particle physics.

Sarah Parker Remond (1826-1894), African-American anti-slavery activist and doctor. Brought up in Salem, Massachussetts, in a family active in the slavery abolition movement, she lectured widely and raised funds to such effect that she was sent in 1858 on a tour of Britain to speak against slavery. Never to return to the USA, she moved to Florence in 1866 where she studied and then practised medicine for 20 years.

August Riedel (1799-1883), German painter who studied first at Munich and then at Dresden. In 1832 he moved permanently to Rome and became a professor at the Academia di San Luca. He is known for his sensitive portraits and for his genre scenes and landscapes in Italy. His tomb of pink granite has a fine portrait medallion in gilt bronze (restored in 2009).

Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996), Italian poet born in Paris and educated there, in England (her mother was English) and in the USA during the family’s exile from fascist Italy. Returning to Italy in 1946, she developed writing as a career while studying music in her spare time. Her experimental verse and prose is written in English, French and Italian; she also composed music.

Gottfried Semper (1803-1879), German architect. After studying mathematics in Göttingen and architecture in Munich, and spending four years in Paris, he became Professor of Architecture in Dresden and director of the Royal Saxon Academy of Fine Arts in 1834. Forced to leave Dresden after taking part in the revolt of May 1849, Semper fled to London and in 1855 became Professor of Architecture in Zurich. In 1876 he moved to Italy and died three years later in Rome.

Joseph Severn (1793-1879), English painter, who looked after Keats during his final illness. As a painter he was versatile, producing portraits, genre scenes, and biblical and literary subjects. He returned to Rome in 1861 as British consul, a post he filled amiably but without distinction. In 1882, following a public subscription, he was buried next to Keats, with a gravestone of a size, shape and design similar to that of Keats’.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), English poet. As reckless and brilliant in his poetry as in his life, Shelley poured out the great body of his major work in less than a decade, and drowned off the coast of Tuscany at the age of 29. He is remembered as a love poet ( Lines Written in the Bay of Lerici), a master of plangent lyrics ( To a Skylark), of superb odes ( To the West Wind) and moving elegies ( Adonais). But he was also a philosophical and political essayist, and a gifted translator from German, Italian, Greek, Spanish and Arabic. 

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895), the most prominent American sculptor in Rome for 40 years. He designed the Angel of Grief, the best-known and arrestingly beautiful sculpture in the Cemetery, as a monument to his wife (Story was buried in the same tomb after his own death).  His life was the object of a biography by Henry James, William Wetmore Story and his Friends (1903).

Edward John Trelawny (1792-1881), English author, friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley, beside whose ashes he is buried, and a great admirer of both Shelley and Byron’s work.  He was a masterful storyteller and in his later years recounted tales of his adventures with Shelley and Byron. Trelawny identified the bodies of Shelley and Edward Williams (a friend who drowned at the same time) and supervised their cremations.  He wrote numerous accounts of Shelley’s last days and, as he got older, he tended to mix fact with fiction for dramatic effect. 

Wilhelm Friedrich Waiblinger (1804-1830), German romantic poet, mostly remembered today in connection with Friedrich Hölderlin. Waiblinger, who used to visit the older poet and take him out for walks, left an account of Hölderlin's life in Tübingen in Hölderlins Leben, Dichtung und Wahnsinn ("Hölderlin's life, poetry and madness"). He died in Rome at the age of 25.

Juan Rodolfo Wilcock (1919-1978), Argentine poet. Trained as a civil engineer, he started writing encouraged by Borges and others. In 1951, feeling constrained by the Peronist regime, he left for Italy and then London, returning to Italy for good in 1957. Thereafter he wrote mostly in Italian; his request for Italian citizenship came through after his death.

Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894), American novelist and short story writer. Born in New Hampshire, she travelled widely around the United States and published collections of short stories. In 1879 after her mother’s death she moved to Europe, meeting Henry James the following year who became a close friend. A number of novels followed, and short stories set in Italy were published posthumously. She is buried with her sister Clara Woolson Benedict and her niece Clare Benedict, a generous benefactor to the Cemetery.

Richard Wyatt (1795-1850), English sculptor, a rival and a friend to John Gibson. Both of them studied with Canova and Thorvaldsen. He is noted for his neo-classical figures, especially female, which are now found in many public and private collections. On his death in Rome, John Gibson asked to design the monument, which he did with a portrait and a touching inscription.



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