Painting depicting a right hand profile perspective bust portrait of Italian poet Dante Alighieri. He is surrounded by a wreath of olive branches, with leaves attached. To the right the figure of Ugolino is imprisoned with young children surrounding him, one of them lying on the floor as if dead. There is a chain attached to a stone wall in the right hand side of the picture.
Dante Alighieri about 1800-3 William Blake 1757-1827 Pen and ink and tempera on canvas Blake painted the heads of eighteen poets for his patron William Hayley. They were commissioned for the library of his house at Felpham, Sussex. Blake preferred the work of non-classical writers, and Dante (1265-1321) was among his favourite poets. This portrait is based on Raphael's portrait of Dante included in his painting of the Disputa, in the Vatican. To the right of Dante sits the figure of Count Ugolino, a character from the writer's famous work the Inferno, who was imprisoned with his sons and grandsons. Eventually, Ugolino must turn to cannibalism to survive. Purchased 1885.16
unframed: 42.5cm x 87.8cm
framed: 47cm x 92cm
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery