Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

From the turmoil of cities, to the peace of the countryside

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)

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