Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divina Commedia has had an incalculable impact on Western culture, not least through its inspiration of visual artists. After all, Dante’s descriptions of grotesque figures, fantastic landscapes, and inventive punishments virtually beg to be depicted visually.
Now anyone can view and download approximately 1,000 of these images from eleven editions of the poem published between 1487 and 1846 courtesy of Cornell University Library’s Divine Comedy Image Archive (DCIA). These images are available free in Shared Shelf Commons, the open-access library of images from institutions that subscribe to Shared Shelf, Artstor’s Web-based service for cataloging and managing digital collections. The DCIA plans to make available a total of approximately 2,000 images from editions dating through 1921.