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Petrarch: A Septicentennial Commemoration

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area
December 1, 2004
January 31, 2005

 

Introduction:

Petrarch: A Septicentennial Commemoration joins the several events held at Georgetown University during the past year to observe the 700th 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 366 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 200 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:

The Poetry of Petrarch

translated and with an introduction by David Young
(New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2004)
Georgetown University Library

The Life of Petrarch

Petrarca, Francesco, 1304-1374
collected from Memoires pour la vie de Petrarch
in two volumes (second edition; London: 1776)
Georgetown University Special Collections

Sonetto 47 del Petrarca

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

With Petrarch: Twelve Sonnets: Prose Translations

Synge, J. M. (John Millington), 1871-1909
Larchmont, New York: Peter Pauper Press, 1928
Georgetown University Special Collections

Palais des Papes - Avignon

Patrick, James McIntosh, 1907-1998
1928
etching
122 x 213 mm
Georgetown University Fine Print Collection

Minerva, The Sciences and Arts

Thomassin, Simon Henri, 1687-1741
1728 
engraving
4232 x 338 mm
Georgetown University Fine Print Collection