Artibus et Historiae no. 68 (XXXIV)

2013, ISSN 0391-9064

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PHILIP COTTRELL - Painting Poetry: Bonifacio de’ Pitati’s Triumphs of Petrarch (pp. 121-141)

Bonifacio de Pitati’s six paintings of the Triumphs of Petrarch have had a somewhat chequered history. The scheme was discussed at great length by Carlo Ridolfi in Le Maraviglie dell’arte of 1648, but from the mid-seventeenth-century the Triumphs were continually celebrated as important works by Titian. This essay seeks to reconstruct aspects of their appearance, provenance and critical history.

As a result of their size and format, Bonifacio’s paintings are of particular interest in the context of artistic depictions of Petrarch’s Trionfi. Although the poem was frequently portrayed in the art of the period, this was mostly in the form of tapestries, prints or small-scale panel paintings such as cassoni and deschi da parto. It is argued that the nature and content of the scheme have been continually misunderstood and that, in addition to two paintings in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, two further paintings in Weimar which have been dismissed as copies are actually survivors of the original set of six. An appendix acts as a guide to the scheme’s complex iconography.

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