Who was Francesco Petrarca (also known as Petrarch)?
Francesco Petrarca was a poet born into an exiled family in Arezzo, Italy
in 1304. Interestingly, his father was exiled from Florence at the same time as Dante Aligheri was exiled from the same
city, and by the same people (the Black Geulph political party).
In 1316, he went to Montpelier to study law. While the subject of law
appealed to him, the dishonesty of lawyers turned him off from the profession. At this time, he turned his intellectual focus
to the Classics, about which he had learned a little bit in school. He and his brother Gherardo entered the service of the
church and throughout the rest of his life, Petrarch would be supported by the church's money.
By 1330, Petrarch finished his Minor Orders of the church and now entered the service
of the Cardinal Colonna. Throughout his lifetime, he would go on many diplomatic missions across Europe, and act as an ambassador.
By 1336, he began to compile The Song Book, which ended up containing 366 poems, mostly sonnets about Laura, a married woman whom Petrarch could never have.
In 1343, Petrarch's brother became a monk and this caused Petrarch to examine his
own faith. At this time he wrote Secretum. In it, he carries on a dialogue with St. Augustine, as the two are in the presence of Lady Truth. Petrarch kept this private
meditative book by his side for the rest of his life.
In 1345, he discovered letters written by Cicero over one thousand years ago. He
took Cicero's lead and started writing his own letters - to kings and queens of the past, to Homer, to Cicero himself, to
Popes, and to Cardinals. These letters are known as the Seniles (or letters of his later years).
Petrarch died in 1374 in Italy. His writings influenced Boccoccio and other contemporaries
of his, as well as Shakespeare later on.
In this portrait, Petrarch is shown in classical form as a decorated poet, with a
laurel wreath adorning his head. There is a sense of sadness of in his face, which could possibly represent Petrarch's
profound losses during his lifetime. Petrarch lived through the worst of the plague, and lost many people in his life - his
mother, his father, his son, his grandson, numberous friends, and the love of his life, Laura. It could also show him wistful
in his unrequited love for the beautiful Laura.
The Painter: Stefano Tofanelli
Stefano Tofanelli was born
in Lucca, Italy in 1750. He primarily made drawings for engravers, but he also painted altarpieces, mythological scenes, and
portraiture. During his lifetime, he did several drawings for the engraver Raffaello Morghen, and of these drawings, many
of them were copies of the Old Masters. Tofanelli died in Lucca in 1810 at the age of sixty.
The Engraver: Raffaello Morghen
In 1758, Raffaello Sanzio
Morghen was born into a family of German engravers residing in Naples, Italy. His earliest teacher was his father, but he
was soon placed under the direction of the celebrated Giovanni Volpato. He assisted his master with engraving the paintings
of Raphael in Vatican City. Soon he was invited to Florence to engrave more paintings by the Old Masters, like Leonardo
da Vinci, among others. In 1803, The Insitute of France elected him an associate, and in 1812, Napolean himself invited Morghen
to Paris, where he paid him a great deal of attention. Not only was Morghen famous during his time; he was also quite prolific-
he composed over 200 engravings just while he was in Florence. Morghen died while
in Florence in 1833.