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Introduction: Seeing Is Believing? The Renaissance And The Arts

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Chapter Summary

In the context of the Canzoniere, the sonnet serves to stress Lauras indifference, but it is nevertheless dependent for its meaning on Petrarchs concept of the image and, by extension, on his estimation of Simones skill. In Petrarchs praise of Lauras portrait and of Simones artistry, it is possible to glimpse the various elements of artistic culture which have been emphasised by different definitions of Renaissance. For some scholars, the distinctiveness of art from the early fourteenth century onwards lies in a perceived individualism comparable to that alluded to by Petrarchs alto concetto. The testimonies of the artistically-minded humanists and the humanistically-minded artists may indeed appear striking, but it is important to ask how far these texts actually speak to the reality of a new age in the arts, and how far they should be regarded as elegant, but formulaic praise, aspirational assertions, defensive declarations or hopeful hyperbole.

Keywords: artistically-minded humanists; Canzoniere; Laura; Petrarch; Renaissance; Simones artistry



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