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Posts Tagged ‘Dante’

William Blake; Pity; ca. 1795. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Blake; Pity; ca. 1795. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Blake is perhaps the most famous artist born out of the British Romantic period, mostly known for his writing, paintings, and printmaking. But much like Vincent Van Gogh and Henry Darger after him, Blake was largely unrecognized during his lifetime and was mostly seen by the art community as an amateur. And while his published poetry and his illustrations of those poems are wholly original works, Blake spent the majority of his career drawing and painting scenes from fictional stories written by other authors—such as Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Dante.

In fact, it might be said that Blake spent a lot of his time working on what we now call “fan art.”

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Vincenzo Petroncini Gozzini | La Divina commedia, 1846 | Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library: Fiske Dante Collection

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.

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