- Boccaccio, Giovanni
- (1313-1375)Considered one of the greatest Italian poets in history, Boccaccio was born either in the Tuscan town of Certaldo or in Florence. He spent his youth in Naples where his father worked as representative of the Bardi bank. There he studied law and commerce and eventually recognized that his true calling was writing. In Naples he composed his Caccia di Diana (c. 1334), Filostrato (c. 1335), and Teseida (1339-1341). By 1341, he was back in Florence and there he began work on his Decameron (c. 1350), which tells the tale of 10 aristocratic youths who flee Florence to avoid the Black Death. They set up court in the Tuscan countryside where they pass the time by telling each other stories. Among these is the story of Nastagio degli Onesti, a subject sometimes depicted on domestic furnishings decorated with didactic narratives. The work was so successful that in the 16th century it was declared the canon of vernacular prose. During the mid-1350s, Boccaccio established a close friendship with Petrarch and acted as Florentine ambassador to Rome, Ravenna, Avignon, and Brandenburg. Among his later works is the De mulieribus claris, the first collection of biographies of women in Western literature and a major source of subjects for artists. Boccaccio spent his last years lecturing on Dante in Certaldo and Florence.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.