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Sebastian Schütze and Maria Antonietta Terzoli, William Blake: The Drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy

Luisa Calè

Reproductions of the Dante watercolors were published by Albert Roe in 1953, Milton Klonsky in 1980, Corrado Gizzi in 1983, and David Bindman in 2000. Building on their work, a clothbound edition published by Taschen to mark the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth reproduces and catalogues the drawings in codex format, with fourteen foldouts the size of the originals. The catalogue presents each plate by identifying, quoting, and translating three lines from the relevant canto and providing a generic title to sum up the subject matter, followed by indications of medium, size, and location, and a paragraph that summarizes the relevant moment in Dante’s plot, opposite a full-page or double-page-spread illustration. The volume includes preliminary essays by the Italianist Maria Antonietta Terzoli on “Dante’s Afterworld between Classical Myth and Christian Theology” and the art historian Sebastian Schütze on Dante and Blake as masters of “visibile parlare.” The visual reception of Dante in a range of media is documented by reproductions of miniatures, initial letters, and other illustrations from fifteenth-century illuminated manuscripts, portraits of Dante from the Duomo in Florence and in Orvieto, and the topology of hell and other illustrations by Sandro Botticelli, John Flaxman, Eugène Delacroix, and Gustave Doré.

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