Petrarch's Sacred And Profane Love Analysis

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What does love got to do with it? Tina Turner’s iconic lyrics has continued to phrase this question to various generations, leading one to wonder how Petrarch would have answered them. For him, it appears love was the basis of everything, including life and work. Petrarch immortalized the convention of love in poetry through his vivid imagery and stunning depictions of beauty. Through his poems, he takes the reader on a journey in which they truly feel his passion for the elusive Laura and eventually his shame in his undying love for her. However, paintings depicting love in the Renaissance express a different view from Petrarch, one that is more rational, leading one to question why there is this discrepancy and what it means.

In the Canzoniere,
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Historians argue which figure depicts the sacred; perhaps it is the clothed and modest girl on the left while naked Venus depicts profane love that sexualizes the physical body. Or, consequently, the sumptuous outfit of the woman on the left reveals a focus on worldly riches and thus is more profane, while the naked female shows a connection to nature and the Maker, thus being more sacred as well as depicting a woman’s sacred duty to reproduce. Nevertheless, they symbolize the two sides of Petrarch. One could argue that the shame Petrarch feels is a social construct, the ideas of marriage, fidelity, and peaceful love being reinforced by the church and the art rendered in this era makes Petrarch feel even more ashamed of his feelings towards the married Laura. His passionate love goes against everything being taught as his emotions seek to disrupt the balance of marriage which is valued so highly. This Renaissance art can be said to depict the most negative themes in Petrarch’s poetry, those that love leads to shame and pain, instead of focusing on the beauty and passion that true love can

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