PETRARCH (PETRARCA, Francesco). Canzoniere or Rerum vulgarium fragmenta. 

Italy, second half of the 15th century




£ 120,000



8vo (binding: 20.9 x 14.9 cm; text: 20.5 x 14.5 cm); 263 pp on 132 ff; 30 lines; single column. Lombard capitals in blue and red (alternating). One leaf missing, hence Rvf 1 to 4 are missing with the exception of v. 14 of Rvf 4 (“Onde si bella donna al mondo nacque.”). Part Two (Rvf 264) is introduced by a 4-line initial, in red and blue penwork (“Queste cancione & soneti seguenti furono facti dreto la morte di madona Laura per il predicto Miser Francesco petrarcha”). Manicules and marginal reading marks in Latin; very wide margins. On final recto ink inscription with date ‘1577’ and an earlier hand has transcribed the last 10 verses of Rvf 366, adding a note in Italian vernacular (“Dominacione Nascerà in questo dì homo grasso e pieno di carne e ben membruto [?] colore palid”). Minor marginal wormholes fading in frequency and size as text proceeds; occasional worm trace to lower inner gutters (mostly at start and some repaired) and lower margins. Minor staining and soiling not affecting the text; lightly browned. Modern limp vellum. An excellent manuscript, in fine condition.



A near complete and exceptional manuscript of Petrarch’s Canzoniere or Rerum vulgarium fragmenta. This decorated manuscript in one hand is also supplemented by the additional ballata “Donna mi viene spesso ne la mente”, belonging to Petrarch’s disperse or uncollected poems (cf. Solerti, Rime disperse, no. 1). Although it is lacking the first leaf containing the first three poems, it appears clear that the manuscript mostly follows the final version revised by Petrarch himself – see MS 3195 of the Vatican Library. However, the anonymous scribe does not follow the two-column mise en page established by Petrarch in his autograph manuscript as the verses are here aligned according to the ‘modern’ one-column layout of poetry, one verse per line, in order to facilitate the reading. 


In the present manuscript the poems are copied according to the following sequence (the numerals correspond to the physical position in which they actually stand in the manuscript): [one leaf missing], 4 (v. 14), 5-37, 39, 38, 40-79, 81-82, 80, 83-120, 122, Disp. 1, 123, 121, 124-242, 121b (repeat), 243-327, 329, 328, 330-339, 342, 340, 350-355, 359, 341, 343, 356, 344-349, 357-358, 360-366. This is not surprising as the manuscript tradition of Petrarch’ Canzoniere is complex and there are various inconsistencies in the order in which the poems actually appear in the various manuscripts, often diverging from the sequence that is found in the final autograph version of the BAV 3195.


A very attractive manuscript, wide margined and in superb condition.