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The Stephen Richard Kerbs (C'67) Exhibit Area was donated in 1998 in memory of Mr. Kerbs by his brother, E. Anthony Kerbs (C'73), of Rumson, New Jersey, to provide a venue for special exhibitions on a variety of topics, from the Library's collections.

Georgetown University Library - Exhibitions

Petrarch: A Septicentennial Commemoration

Stephen Richard Kerbs (C '67) Exhibit Area

December 2004 · January 2005


Petrarch: A Septicentennial Commemoration joins the several events held at Georgetown University during the past year to observe the seven-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch (1304-1374), the remarkable scholar, poet, and diplomat whose works in Latin and Italian inspired much of the pursuit of humanist learning and creativity that would distinguish the Renaissance.

Born in Arezzo, Petrarch spent part of his childhood in Avignon, where the popes held office from 1309 to 1377, and returned there as an adult to work for the papacy. The etching Palais des Papes - Avignon by Scottish artist James Mcintosh Patrick is included to commemorate this important era in Petrarch's life.

It was in a church in Avignon that Petrarch first saw, and was taken with the beauty of, a woman named Laura, whom he never met but who inspired him to write three-hundred sixty-six poems, in Italian, in an original sonnet form. Franz Liszt's three adaptations of sonnets 47, 104, and 123 for piano were performed in the University's historic Gaston Hall on April 6 by acclaimed Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda. The 1776, two-volume Life of Petrarch shown here contains an imaginative illustration opposite the frontispiece of Petrarch meeting Laura.

Other historically significant works of Petrarciana from Special Collections include With Petrarch (1928), issued by the Peter Pauper Press, which made possible the dissemination of fine-press ideals to the public at large through its long list of beautifully designed and carefully printed works sold, by and large, very inexpensively. The Library continues to add to its holdings of Petrarch, which now number more than two hundred entries. This elegantly illustrated dust jacket for The Poetry of Petrarch protects one of the works published this year, and now available to students and scholars at Georgetown University.

Minerva, The Sciences and Arts by French artist Simon Thomassin is shown to emphasize how Petrarch's admiration for and rediscovery of the landmark works of classical learning played a seminal role promoting the increase in knowledge and intellectual achievement in Europe - a legacy one of whose fruits, in the New World, was the founding of the great Jesuit institution of learning at Georgetown College.

Items in the Exhibition

To see images, click the thumbnails. The larger image will open in a new window; close the window to return to Petrarch: A Septicentennial Commemoration.

The Poetry of Petrarch
translated and with an introduction by David Young
(New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004)
Georgetown University Library

The Life of Petrarch
collected from Memoires pour la vie de Petrarch
in two volumes (second edition; London: 1776)
Georgetown University Special Collections

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sonetto 47 del Petrarca (ca. 1839-1846; orig. pub. 1846; rev. 1858)
Franz Liszt: Années de pèlerinage: Complete
(New York: Dover, 1988)
Georgetown University Library
Georgetown Chimes Book Endowment Fund

With Petrarch: Twelve Sonnets: Prose Translations
by J(ohn) M(illington) Synge (1871-1909)
Larchmont, New York: Peter Pauper Press, 1928
Georgetown University Special Collections

James McIntosh Patrick (1907-1998)
Palais des Papes - Avignon, 1928
122 x 213 mm
Georgetown University Fine Print Collection


Simon Thomassin (1652-1732)
Minerva, The Sciences and Arts, 1728
4232 x 338 mm
Georgetown University Fine Print Collection


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