Illustrations to The Divine Comedy of Dante
Blake, William, 1757-1827.
Illustrations to The Divine Comedy of Dante.
New York: Da Capo Press, 1968.
Call Number: (SPL)(FOL) NC 1115 .B63 1968
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library
The drawings reproduced here were commissioned from Blake by painter John Linnell. Blake received a stipend of £2 to £3 per week while working on them as a pension for his last years.
In 1824, at the age of 67, he began the series while in bed with a sprained foot and learned Italian for the purpose. Linnell had given him a folio volume of about 100 pages for the designs; they were executed concurrently with those for the book of Job. Few of the Dante drawings were completely finished and only seven engraved. These engravings, made by Blake himself, 13½ inches by 9½ inches, were published in 1827.
On April 25, 1827, he wrote to Linnell: "I am too much attached to the Dante to think much of anything else. I have proved the six plates, and reduced the fighting devils ready for the copper. I count myself sufficiently paid if I live as I do now, and only fear that I may be unlucky to my friends, and especially that I may be so to you."
The series was one of the largest undertaken by Blake, and the final legacy of his imagination. He died on August 12, 1827.