700 years from Divine Comedy author Dante’s death, some argue that no one brought more horror, romance, and theatricality to his Inferno than Gustave Doré. Former Portico Librarian Emma Marigliano explores the influence of those incomparable illustrations since they first appeared in 1861.
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri has inspired artists and illustrators since before Botticelli and visual interpretations have never ceased to this day. Although there was little during the 17th century right through to the mid 18th century interest was soon re-awakened by the neo-Classical and Romantic art world from Joshua Reynolds, through to John Flaxman, William Blake, Henry Fuseli and finally Gustave Dore, all setting off a steady stream of artists who were inspired by the Inferno above all. But it was Dore, in 1861, who brought Dante to a much wider and diverse public with his self-published sumptuous volume of illustrations for Dante’s Inferno (L;Enfer du Dante). The immediate sell-out of that entire first printing had secured Dore’s success for evermore and the printer/publisher of course, grabbed the opportunity to publish many more editions which helped to diffuse it widely throughout Europe and America.
Critics have historically been quite critical of Doré designs. But, who cares about the critics and the conoscenti when the public clamour, still to this day, for the horror, melodrama, romance, theatricality, and the vastness of his Inferno and other designs? Gustave Dore’s Dante has never stopped inspiring a wealth of artists, illustrators, writers, film makers, theatre and graphic designers, musicians and more.
This illustrated talk explores the extent and reach of Gustave Dore’s illustrations on representations of Dante’s Inferno over the 150 years since they first appeared in 1861.