Group portrait of six Italian writers and poets: Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Guido Cavalcanti, Giovanni Boccaccio, Cino da Pistoia, and Guittone d'Arezzo.

Six Tuscan Poets, 1544

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The William Hood Dunwoody Fundexpand_more  71.24

This group portrait of six distinguished Tuscan poets and writers celebrates the golden age of Italian literature of the 14th and 15th centuries and the role these individuals in elevating literature and ennobing the language.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), one of the most celebrated poets of the ages and author of the "Divine Comedy," sits prominently at the table. To the left stands Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), who holds the green volume, the book's cover decorated with a cameo portrait of a woman in profile, likely Petrarch's muse Laura. Between them is Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75), author of the "Decameron," a book begun in 1348 following the outbreak of the Black Death in Florence. At far right is Guido Cavalcanti (c. 1255-1300), a poet acclaimed for his love sonnets, although Dante, holding open a book of Virgil before him, seems to suggest he would benefit from studying the ancient Latin writer's work (a point Dante also makes in the "Divine Comedy"). The four 13th-century poets wear laurel crowns symbolic of their literary achievements. Behind them to the left are two more men of letters, shown wearing fashionable 15th-century caps instead of laurel crowns. They lived a century later and thus are depicted observing the literary giants' discussion. Cristoforo Landino (1424-1498/1504), at left, was an influential Neoplatonist and scholar in Florence, who published a definitive edition of Dante's "Comedy" in 1481, which included an extensive commentary and illustrations. Next to him is Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), a key figure in reviving and translating ancient Greek and Latin literature in the Renaissance.

The objects on the table represent various scholarly disciplines. The solar quadrant and celestial globe denote astronomy and astrology; the compass and terrestrial globe, geometry and geography; the books, grammar and rhetoric.

Details
Title
Six Tuscan Poets
Artist Life
Italian (Florence), 1511–1574
Role
Artist
Accession Number
71.24
Curator Approved

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Group portrait of six Italian writers and poets: Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Guido Cavalcanti, Giovanni Boccaccio, Cino da Pistoia, and Guittone d'Arezzo.