(Cover Illustration: “Inferno”, Canti XXVI-XXVIII
by Federico Zuccari – © Uffizi collection)
For the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante, Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy) curates a virtual exhibition with 88 rarely displayed drawings of “The Divine Comedy”, as a part of the nationwide celebrations.
The mediaeval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), known as the Father of the Italian language, is credited with making literature accessible to the public for using common Tuscan dialect, instead of Latin, as well as paving the way for important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio.
“The path to Paradise begins in Hell.” – Dante
Dante’s masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy”, is an epic poem in three parts recounting a pilgrim’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. As an allegory, the poem represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin. The message in Dante’s Inferno is that human beings are subject to temptation and commit sins, leaving no escape from the eternal punishments of Hell. However, human beings have free will, and they can make choices to avoid temptation and sin, ultimately earning the eternal rewards of Heaven.
“To rebehold the stars”
To mark the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death in 2021, Uffizi Gallery is providing Dante-centric artworks online “for free, any hour of the day, for everyone” says Uffizi director Eike Schmidt. He states that these drawings are a “great resource” for Dante scholars and students, as well as “anyone who likes to be inspired by Dante’s pursuit of knowledge and virtue.”
The virtual exhibition consists of 88 high-resolution images of works by the 16th-Century Renaissance artist Federico Zuccari. The pencil-and-ink drawings are in contrasting shades of black and red, which were originally bound in a volume with each illustration opposite the corresponding verse in Dante’s epic poem. They were completed during Zuccari’s stay in Spain from 1586 to 1588, and became part of the Uffizi collection in 1738.
This event is part of the nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, but also aims to symbolize the rebirth of Italy and the art world.