BornCastel San Felice, (Umbria, Italy), 1635
DiedRome, (Italy), 28 July 1715
Giuseppe Campani was one of Europe’s foremost telescope makers and opticians in the seventeenth century. Born in a village near Spoleto, he came from a peasant family and had no university education. He soon went to Rome with his two brothers, one of whom was a cleric, the other a clockmaker. Campani learned clockmaking, probably studied optics at the Collegio Romano, and became skilful in grinding lenses.
In 1656 Campani, along with his brothers, made a silent night clock, which, when presented to Pope Alexander VII, brought him fame. He then became a full-time lens grinder, a trade carried out for nearly 50 years, constructing telescopes and lenses in Rome. He worked for important individuals all over Europe and for the Royal Observatory in Paris. The Pope and his nephew, Cardinal Flavio Chigi, remained among Campani’s most important patrons, but he also won the patronage of Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany,...