Gaspara Stampa

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Stampa, Gaspara (ca. 15231554)

Italian poet whose sonnets in the style of Petrarch, dedicated to a largely unrequited love, made her reputation as one of the finest poets of the Italian Renaissance. Born in Padua, she moved to Venice at the age of eight with her mother Cecilia, soon after the death of her father, Bartolomeo Stampa. In Venice, she studied literature and music, and with her sister Cassandra she became an accomplished lute player. Her brother Baldassare was earning some renown as a poet and gathering friends and writers to the family home, which became a popular salon enlivened by music performed by the Stampa sisters. After the death of her brother in 1544, Gaspara continued the salon and she became the center of a literary circle, among whom she earned praise as a poet. Three of her poems were published during her lifetime, but after her death Cassandra collected 311 of her poems into the collection Rime. The poems describe Gaspara's love affair with Count Collaltino de Collato that brought her heartbreak and frustration. Her sonnets took their inspiration from Petrarch and his love for the distant Laura.

See Also: d'Aragona, Tullia; Petrarch; Venice