The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of a fully searchable electronic edition of Blake’s water color illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Archive first published these in January 2005 in our Preview mode. This republication substantially increases the number and range of Blake’s pictorial motifs available for searching on the Archive. The 7 engravings illustrating Dante’s poem continue to be available in the Archive in Preview mode.
Illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy, obj. 66, “Antaeus Setting Down Dante and Virgil in the Last Circle of Hell”
Along with the illustrations to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, the poetry of Thomas Gray, and John Milton’s poems, the 102 Dante water colors are among Blake’s most important series of illustrations of another poet. They were commissioned by John Linnell, the chief patron of Blake’s final years. Although Linnell did not begin to pay for the designs until December 1825, at the rate of about 1 pound a week, Blake probably began work on the drawings by the fall of 1824. They were left at Blake’s death in 1827 in various stages of completion, ranging from pencil sketches to highly finished water colors. Most show an expressive …read more