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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

Excursus 2 - Filippino Lippi’s Portrait of a Canterino

from Part II - Cantare ad Lyram: The Humanist Tradition


As the newly invigorated and performative disciplines of poetry and rhetoric took hold in court cultural life, so too did the inseparable activities of poetic recitation and performance. Civic humanism was adapted to the new cultural ethos of the courts, which cultivated courtly splendor and entertainment as an expression of dynastic magnificenza. Court life accordingly reshaped poetic practice in important ways: through hybridizing interaction with polyphonic practice, the fostering of intensifying debates on the nature and status of Italian vernacular, the turn to more introspective poetic modes and forms modeled on Petrarch’s canzoniere, and the cultivation of more socialized forms of poetic expression such as the dialogue and theatrical presentations. This chapter focuses on three centers (Ferrara, Urbino, and Naples), which have been chosen for the vitality of their poetic performance practices and for the variety of their court cultures. Like humanism in general, cantare ad lyram took hold in each of these centers in a manner particular to each court’s distinctive character: residual feudalism and a strong university in Ferrara, the complex patronage structure of Naples (including the Spanish heritage of its Aragonese kings), and the Urbino court of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro as seen through the idealizing lens of Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano.