Biography Gaspara Stampa

Gaspara Stampa

photo of Gaspara Stampa
  • Time Period1523 - 1554
  • Place
  • CountryItaly

Poet Biography

Gaspara Stampa was born in Padua. By 1531, her father, a successful artisan, had died and her mother had moved the family to Venice. By the early 1540s, Gaspara's brother was a university student and earning praise as a poet. The family home became a salon for the Venetian literati, at which Gaspara and her sister presented musical performances. In 1544 Gaspara's brother died, but his fellow-poets continued to visit, and by the late 1540s Gaspara was part of one or more of the Venetian groups that met in various homes to discuss and practice the arts. At one of these she met Count Collaltino de Collato; her affair with him produced the poems for which she is best known.

Only three of her poems were published in Gaspara's lifetime, although many or all circulated among her literary friends and she was apparently preparing a book for publication. Soon after her death, at the urging of those friends, her sister published Stampa's Rime, containing 311 poems, most of which are sonnets, and most of those about Collaltino. In these poems Stampa uses Petrarchan convention by assuming Petrarch's role: as Petrarch had described his suffering for love of a silent Laura, so Stampa details her love and loss of a generally unresponsive count. As with Petrarch, the poetry is perhaps more important to the poet than the person who inspired it.

Stampa is considered the greatest woman poet of the Italian Renaissance, and she is regarded by many as the greatest Italian woman poet of any age. A highly skilled musician, Stampa produced some of the most musical poetry in the Italian language. Her sonnets of unrequited love speak in a language of honest passion and profound loss.