The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is one of the greatest and one of the most complex works of world literature. In 100 canti, divided into three parts, this epic poem (written during the first twenty years of the 14th century) is a highly imaginative and allegorical vision of the universe. The reader experiences it by following the poet on a journey through the three realms of afterlife starting from the depths of sin in the Inferno (Hell), through the arduous ascent of purification in the Purgatorio (Mount of the Purgatory) to eternal serenity in the Paradiso (Heaven), a passage which also represents the soul´s journey towards God. At end of the 15th century, i. e. almost 200 years after Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, Sandro Botticelli, one of the most famous and celebrated artists of the Renaissance in Florence, undertook the ambitious mission to entirely visualize this poetic vision of the universe. The result is this truly outstanding cycle of drawings, which consisted originally in 102 sheets, of which 85 are conserved in the Kupferstichkabinett - Museum of Prints, Drawings & Fine Manuscripts in Berlin today. These unique drawings bear witness to a veritable competition or dialogue, in which draughtsman and poet engage to explore the limits and the power of word and image. Botticelli´s drawings exceed the traditional form of book illustration or miniature by far. Apparently they are based on a totally new, personal and intense preoccupation of the artist with the work of the poet, which was doubtless inspired by the humanistic ambience of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de´Medici for whom the artist created these drawings and also some of his most famous paintings.


  • Title: Drawings for Dante´s Divine Comedy
  • Creator: Sandro Botticelli
  • Date: 1480 - 1495
  • Physical Dimensions: w47 x h32 cm
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Gouache, pen and brown ink over metalpoint on parchment.
  • Inv.-No.: Botticelli Inferno 18
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Dagmar Korbacher
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Florence, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: Florence, Italy
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1445 - 1510.05.17

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