Portrait of Petrarch in the Incipit Letter “N”

Bartolomeo Sanvitoca. 1480 (Renaissance)

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum

Nature and garden imagery abound in the poetry of Petrarch (d. 1374), one of the great scholars and authors of the Renaissance. This letter N depicts Petrarch holding branches of a laurel tree, a symbol of poetry and knowledge personified by his beloved deceased Laura, his muse. Laurel crowns denoted military victory in the days of the Roman Empire but came to represent the ideals of knowledge and learning in the age of Petrarch. The poem itself recounts Petrarch's dream vision of six allegorical processions (Love, Chastity, Death, Time, Fame, and Faith).

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  • Title: Portrait of Petrarch in the Incipit Letter “N”
  • Date Created: ca. 1480 (Renaissance)
  • Physical Dimensions: w13.6 x h21.5 cm
  • Type: illuminated manuscripts; folios (leaves)
  • Rights: Museum purchase, 1955, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: ink and paint on parchment
  • Scribe: Bartolomeo Sanvito
  • Provenance: Sir George Holdford; Sale, Sotheby's, London, 1929, no. 6, pl. 11; B. Quaritch [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [Cat. 1931, p. 98-99]; Harvey Frost [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Sale, London, October 1955 [Maggs Bros. Ltd. as agent]; Walters Art Museum, 1955, by purchase.
  • Place of Origin: Florence, Italy
  • ExhibitionHistory: Manuscript Painting in the Renaissance. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1989-1990; Renaissance Books and Manuscripts of the Humanist Age. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1994-1995; A Renaissance Gem Revealed: Petrarch's Triumphs Disbound. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2002; Dressed in Gold: Books of the Italian Renaissance. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2005-2006