1545. Oil on canvas. Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy. Read Note.
Pietro Aretino (1492-1557) Italian poet, born in Arezzo, Tuscany, the illegitimate son of a nobleman named Luigi Bacci. Banished from his native town, he went to Perugia, where he worked as a bookbinder, and afterwards wandered through Italy in the service of various noblemen. In Rome (1517-1527) he distinguished himself by his wit, impudence and talents, and secured the favour of Pope Leo X, which he subsequently lost by writing his 16 salacious Sonetti Lassuriosi. He then won the friendship of Giovanni de'Medici and gained an opportunity of ingratiating himself with Francis I at Milan in 1524. A few years later he settled in Venice, there also acquiring powerful friends. Apart from both sacred and profane texts and plays, he mainly wrote letters, which quickly spread his fame throughout Europe, but also won him many enemies. They earned him the nickname "flagello dei principe" ("scourge of princes"). He was one of Titian's most important friends