Ruđer Bošković Institute receives from NSK facsimile of valuable 18th-century document mentioning Rudjer (Ruđer) Josip Bošković

Objavljeno 28.9.2022.

On 27 September 2022, in memory of the noted Croatian researcher and longtime Head of the Radiation Chemistry and Dosimetry Laboratory at the Ruđer Bošković Institute Dr Dušan Ražem (1944-2018), the Institute received from the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK) the facsimile of a valuable 18th-century document in the Library’s Manuscripts and Old Books Collection containing details from the life of the world-famous Croatian mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, diplomat and poet Rudjer (Ruđer) Josip Bošković (1711-1787), whose name the Institute bears.

The facsimile was presented to the Institute’s Director General Dr David Matthew Smith by the University Library Affairs Assistant to the Director General of the National and University Library in Zagreb Dr Dijana Machala. Also present at the delivery were the Head of the Institute’s Division of Materials Chemistry Dr Ana Šantić, Head of the Institute’s Radiation Chemistry and Dosimetry Laboratory Dr Željka Knežević Medija, Head of the Institute’s Centre for Scientific Information Dr Bojan Macan, the late Dr Ražem’s wife Mrs Branka Katušin-Ražem and his associates and friends as well as the members of the Library’s staff – the Head of the NSK Manuscripts and Old Books Collection Dr Irena Galić Bešker, Representative of the NSK Preservation and Storage Department Đuro Singer, Head of the NSK Book Preservation and Binding Division Gabriela Aleksić, Head of the NSK Marketing and Communications Section Sandi Antonac and the Section’s Senior Public Relations Adviser Maja Priselac.

Following Dr Smith’s and Dr Machala’s addresses, the founder and manager of London-based International Trust for Croatian Monuments (ITCM) Lady Jadranka Njerš Beresford-Peirse, who in June 2022 generously donated to the Library the original document, also addressed all present at the delivery.

The document, which Lady Beresford-Peirse discovered in her and Dr Ražem’s search for a well-known 1760 portrait of Bošković by the famous British painter Robert Edge Pine, was written at the request of a Spanish aristocrat de Fuentes, who in it confirms that on his journey from Paris to London Bošković accompanied him as a chaplain. Including a seal with de Fuentes’s coat of arms and written in Paris on 17 May 1760, the document shows that Bošković was in London eight months prior to being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, to which he dedicated his 1760 work De Solis ac Lunae defectibus.

Apart from this document’s accidental discovery, another result of Lady Beresford-Peirse’s and Dr Ražem’s efforts was the organisation of an exhibition in 2011 at the Royal Society marking the 300th anniversary of Bošković’s birth and the 250th anniversary of his election to the Society.