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Carlo Giuseppe Colombani

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Carlo Giuseppe Colombani

Colombani performing a dentistry exhibition
Born 21 January 1676
San Bartolomeo, Italy
Died 1735 or 1736
Venice, Italy
Spouse(s) Apollonia Colombani di Livorno
  • Francesco (father)
  • Isabella (mother)
Movement Dardi tradition
Influences Achille Marozzo
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s) L'Arte maestra (1711)

Carlo Giuseppe Colombani (1676 - 1735/6) was an Italian soldier, fencing master, and dentist at the turn of the 18th century. He was born on 21 January 1676 in San Bartolomeo to Francesco and Isabella Colombani, who seem to have been of high social status. In 1693 at the age of 17, he joined the army of Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy to fight in the war with the French. Colombani participated in several battles (Guastella, Pinerolo, Orbassano, Santa Brigida, and Staffarda) and ultimately became an officer and color guard; for his valor he gained the title Alfier Lombardo ("the Pride of Lombardy").[1]

Colombani traveled for a time after the war, passing through Barcelona, Spain before returning to travel around his native Italy. He supported himself as a fencing master during this time, teaching private lessons and performing public exhibitions; he also dabbled in other forms of performance including charlatanism, puppetry, and tightrope walking. In 1700, he seems to have become involved with a Spanish woman and embarked on another international journey through France, Holland, and England, eventually exhausting all of the wealth he had acquired.[1]

In 1709, he married Apollonia, the daughter of a respected tooth-puller, and then moved to Venice and received an official diploma in dentistry. Between 1710 and 1712, Colombani practiced charlatan dentistry and minor medical care in the public piazza in Venice, proving himself the most capable dentist in the city (other than his wife).[1] In 1711 (during this same period), he also published a brief treatise on fencing with at least some tenuous connection to the tradition of Filippo di Bartolomeo Dardi entitled L'Arte maestra ("The Master Art").

After 1712, Appolonia convinced him to give up public exhibition and they devoted themselves to a more scientific approach to dentistry. He lived the rest of his life in Venice, practicing his trade and become extremely wealthy. Colombani went on to publish several other books on various topics, including a fairly sensationalized memoir in 1724; his wife was also a writer, publishing a treatise on dentistry in 1719.[1]


Additional Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Roberto Lasagni. Dizionario biografico dei Parmigiani. Trans. Piermarco Terminiello. Parma: PPS Editrice, 1999.