Simone’s frontispiece of Petrarch’s Virgil has the poet seated in a flowery orchard, while near him a shepard and a vine-tender symoblize the Ecologues and the Georgics. For the first time since antiquity, according to Kenneth Clark, the pursuits of country life are represented in art as a source of happiness and poetry.
For his curiosity, his scepticism, his restlessness, his ambition and his self-consciousness, Clark and others name Petrarch as the first modern man. “He was probably the first man to express the emotion on which the existence of landscape painting so largely depends; the desire to escape from the turmoil of cities into the peace of the countryside. He went to live in the solitudes of Vaucluse not, as a Cistercian would have done, in order to renounce his life on earth, but in order to enjoy it the more.” (Landscape into Art, 1949)