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Paper: A Starry Diamond in a Veil of Light: Artistic and Literary Suggestions of a Comet
Volume: 501, Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VIII
Page: 133
Authors: Gasperini, A.; Galli, D.
Abstract: Donati's Comet, discovered in Florence on June 2, 1858, was one of the most spectacular astronomical events of the nineteenth century. It could be seen with the naked eye during September and October 1858, when it reached its highest splendour. The sight of the comet, with its bright nucleus and its long, curved tail, inspired paintings, watercolors, engravings, and sketches by artists such as William Dyce, Samuel Palmer, and William Turner of Oxford. Donati's Comet is mentioned in the works of several contemporary writers and poets (Hawthorne, Dickens, Hardy, and Verne), and in the diaries of explorers and travelers all around the world. Long-lasting traces of the impression left by Donati's Comet are found in many forms of popular art and literature (ladies' magazines, children's books, collection cards, and advertisements) until the beginning of the twentieth century. This paper focuses on a few examples of this fascination, emphasizing the connections among the astronomical event and the artistic sensibility of the period.
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