Illustrations to Dante - William Blake (2023)

Illustrations to Dante - William Blake (1)
Dante's Commedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This Worldthe Foundation of All, & the Goddess Nature is his Inspirer & notImagination...

Blake, Annotations to Dante illustrations (1825-27)

(Video) William Blake: Dante's 'Divine Comedy' / / Taschen Reviews

In the Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia) Dante narrates the story of hisjourney out of the dark forest where he found himself in the middle of hislife. With the Roman poet Virgil as guide he travels through Hell (Inferno)and Purgatory before finally reaching Paradise. The Inferno is described asa conical structure with successive circles, each reserved for particularcategories of sinners. Purgatory is a mountain, on top of which is theEarthly Paradise where Dante finally meets his beloved Beatrice. Dantecompleted the Divine Comedy shortly before his death in 1321. It is one ofthe great texts of European culture and continues to inspire artists.

(Video) William Blake Illustrations For Dante's Divine Comedy

Blake's watercolour illustrations were commissioned in 1824 by John Linnell,friend and patron of his last years. They were executed at a time whenDante's masterpiece was being made more widely known through translation andcritical re-evaluation. Henry Cary's first complete translation waspublished in 1814 and Blake owned a copy of it. He also taught himselfItalian in order to be able to read the original. In the late 18th centurythe sublime and terrible passages of the Inferno were illustrated and singledout for praise, however, by the 1820s a new appreciation of the beauties ofPurgatory, and especially Paradise, had emerged. Blake's originality as anillustrator of the Divine Comedy lies in his literary and visionary approachto the text. One of the ways he maintains a continuity of narrativethroughout the series is by consistently showing Dante dressed in red(denoting experience) and Virgil in blue (denoting the spirit). Between 1824and 1827, when he died, Blake completed 102 watercolours which survive invarying stages of completion. He intended to engrave the series - as Flaxmanhad done with his illustrations in the early 1800s - but managed to partiallycomplete only seven plates.

(Video) William Blake. The drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy



Did William Blake illustrated Dante's Inferno? ›

In 1824, Blake's friend the artist John Linnell, commissioned him to make a series of illustrations based on Dante's Divine Comedy. Blake was then in his late sixties. A contemporary account informs us that he designed 100 watercolours of this subject 'during a fortnight's illness in bed. '

What is the major difference between Dore and Blake illustrations of Dante Inferno? ›

What is a major difference between Doré's and Blake's illustrations of Dante's Inferno? Doré's illustrations depict characters and settings in a realistic way, while Blake's illustrations show a more unrealistic and stylized version of the story.

How did Blake make his illustrations? ›

In 1788 Blake developed a process of etching in relief that enabled him to combine illustrations and text on the same page and to print them himself, thus ensuring complete independence of thought and expression. Four illuminated books appeared between 1789 and 1794.

Who did the illustrations for Dante's Inferno? ›

Gustave Doré's (1832-1883) illustrations and Dante's Divine Comedy have become so intimately connected that even today, nearly 150 years after their initial publication, the artist's rendering of the poet's text still determines our vision of the Commedia.

Did William Blake illustrate his poems? ›

William Blake was born in 1757 in London and produced a huge amount of work over his lifetime. You might know him as a poet: 'The Tiger' from his poetry collection Songs of Innocence and Experience is one of his most famous works. But he was also an accomplished artist and he illustrated many of his poems.

Which aspect of Blake's illustration most clearly differs from Dante's text as he requested? ›

Which aspect of Doré's illustration most clearly differs from Dante's text? Dante appears more steadfast than panicked.


1. Dante's Divine Comedy- Illustrated by William Blake, Arcturus Press. Beautiful Book Review
(Everyone Who Reads it Must Converse)
2. Dante's Divine Comedy - William Blake
(Jane Burden Morris)
3. The Otherworldly Art of William Blake
4. William Blake - Dante's Divine Comedy Art Book Review ( Taschen )
(Halcyon Realms Art Book Reviews)
5. William Blake's Dante: Paradiso (1824-27)
(Online Renaissance)
(NGV Melbourne)
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