In Dante’s Divine Comedy
, Matilda is a beautiful woman who represents the active life of the soul. She stands on the Earthly Paradise side of the river Lethe, and offers to answer Dante’s questions. She tells him to look at Beatrice’s procession, which can be seen in Blake’s painting behind Matilda. Blake illustrated Dante’s Divine Comedy
in 1824, a commission he undertook in 1824 at the request of John Linnell. A reverse Newtonian rainbow hangs above the scene.
Because of the size and condition of the original work, 60 x 80 cm is the largest size option we are able to offer.
Matilda and Dante on the Banks of the Lethe with Beatrice on the Triumphal Chariot
Original: Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper 36.7 x 52 cm Lent by The British Museum, London
William Blake (1757 – 1827) was an English poet and artist. Blake trained as an engraver and had a career in etching, engraving and illustration. Although he exhibited his watercolours at the Royal Academy, from 1780 he railed against academic art, insisting instead on individual inspiration. His own style was influenced by Gothic sculpture and Michelangelo’s figures. Although he received little public recognition in his lifetime, he has since been hailed as one of Britain’s greatest artists, and celebrated for his anti-slavery and pro-equality views.