Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Francesco Algarotti

Born in Venice, Francesco Algarotti received a classical education but also studied experimental physics and medicine at the University of Bologna. He traveled extensively throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. In 1740-1742 and for another five years later on, he resided at the court of King Frederick II of Prussia as the monarch's personal guest. An eclectic spirit and prolific writer, he involved himself in history, art, literature, science, and scientific popularization. He adhered from his youth to the theories of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). In Bologna, he conceived and drafted his most famous work, Il newtonianismo per le dame [Newtonianism for ladies], completed in Paris and first published in Milan in 1737. Written in the form of a dialogue, the work champions Newtonian natural philosophy against the "fanciful" opinions of the Cartesians. Algarotti describes Newton as a follower of the Galilean tradition and the first modern philosopher. Algarotti spent his last years in Italy. In Bologna, he founded the Accademia degli Indomiti [Academy of the Untamed] to encourage young scholars.