Linguist Antonio Montucci was born on 22 May 1762 in Sienna. His father was an architect and engineer; his mother the painter Marianna Buonfigli. Having graduated in law at the University of Siena, he was appointed Professor of English at the Jesuit Collegio Tolomei, Siena. The following year he moved to Florence where he met Josiah Wedgwood Jr who invited him to England as his family’s language teacher. He arrived in 1789. Among his students was young Francis Ephraim Cohen, the historian who would later change his name to Francis Palgrave.
During the 1790s he produced numerous works on teaching Italian and some literary studies. In 1795 he published a new edition of Giuspanio Graglia’s The New Pocket Dictionary of the Italian and English Languages (first published in London in 1787), followed in 1806 by an expanded edition of the Galignani’s Twenty-Four Lectures on the Italian Language (first published in 1797).
Montucci also developed an interest in Chinese culture, becoming one of the more important European sinologists of the time. When the first British diplomatic mission in China under George Macartney was organised in London in 1792, the British government called for his linguistic expertise. He left Britain in 1806 and settled in Berlin where, in 1808, he published De studiis Sinicis. He returned to Siena in 1827 where he died in March 1829.