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Dante Alighieri

(1265-1321)

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) great Italian poet, born in Florence into a noble family.
See: Alessandro Botticelli Portrait of Dante.
Andrea del Castagno. Dante Allighieri.
Luca Signorelli. Dante with Scenes from the Divine Comedy.

La Vita Nuova
According to his work La Vita Nuova (1292) Dante fell in love with Beatrice Portinari (1265-1290) when they were both only 9. And this love to her he bore through all his life. Many paintings, based on the episodes from Vita Nuova, were created by the 19th century painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
See: Dante Gabriel Rossetti The First Anniversary of the Death of Beatrice: Dante Drawing the Angel. Dante recalls  how he drew an angel on the anniversary of Beatrice's death: 'and while I did this, chancing to turn my head, I perceived that some were standing beside me to whom I should have given courteous welcome, and that they were observing what I did... perceiving whom, I arose for salutation, and said: "Another was with me".
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Beatrice Meeting Dante at a Marriage Feast, Denies Him Her Salutation.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Dantis Amor. (Dante’s Love) was the central panel of three, the others showing the earthly and heavenly salutations of Beatrice; all three were painted on a cupboard door. Love stands in front of a diagonally divided sky with the head of Christ in the upper left, and that of Beatrice in the lower right. Love is holding an unfinished sundial, which would have shown the time to be nine o'clock, nine being the mystic number, which Dante associated with Beatrice.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Beata Beatrix is a portrait of Rossetti’s dead wife, Elizabeth Siddal. Once again the subject comes from Dante’s Vita Nuova, and shows the mystical translation of Beatrice from earth to heaven. On the right stands Dante, staring across to the Angel of Love. Beatrice sits beside a sundial on which the shadow falls on nine, the hour of her death on 9 June 1290. A red bird, the messenger of death, drops a poppy, the symbol of sleep, into her folded hands.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Dante’s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice. The subject from Vita Nuova in which Dante dreams of being led by Love to see the dead Beatrice on her bier.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. La Donna della Fiamma, The Lady of the Flame, a subject inspired by the lines in Dante’s Vita Nuova:

Whatever her sweet eyes are turned upon,
Spirits of Love issue thence in Flame,
Which through their eyes who then may look on them
Piece to the Heart’s deep chamber every one.


Divine Comedy

In his most celebrated work the Divine Comedy, Dante narrates a journey through Hell and Purgatory, guided by Virgil, and finally to Paradise, guided by Beatrice. The Divine Comedy gives an encyclopedic view of the highest culture and knowledge of the age all expressed in the most exquisite poetry. It was highly appreciated both by his contemporaries and following generations. Many artists took the subjects from the Divine Comedy for their paintings.
See: Eugène Delacroix The Barque of Dante.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Dante’s Vision of Rachel and Leah. Dante, guided through Purgatory by Virgil, dreams of a meadow where Rachel, posed for by Lizzie Siddal, sits on a stone basin above a stream looking at her reflection in the water, while her sister Leah collects branches of honeysuckle with which to make a garland. The figure in the background is Dante.
The subject of Dante Gabriel Rossetti La Pia de’Tolomei is taken from the final lines of Canto V of the Dante’s Purgatorio, in which the poet describes his meeting with La Pia. She had been imprisoned in a fortress in the Maremma, a marshy region on the Tuscan coast, and eventually killed, deliberately or through neglect, by her husband.
 

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