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Salvador Dalí­
Purgatory Canto 22 (The Divine Comedy)

1964

About the Item

Purgatory Canto 22 is a wood engraving on BFK Rives with an image size of 10 x 7" from the popular French edition of the portfolio. Framed in a classic, gold-tone frame. Cataloging: Micheler, R., & Löpsinger, L. (Eds.). (1995). Salvador Dalí Catalogue Raisonné of Prints II Lithographs and Wood Engravings 1956 – 1980. Prestel. pgs 102 -114. Field, A. (1996). The Official Catalog of the Graphic Works of Salvador Dalí. The Salvdor Dalí Archives. pgs. 189 – 200. Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, written in exile between 1308 and 1321, holds a venerable position not only in Western literature, but in Italian literature. In Italy, it was the first work written entirely in the Italian of Florence and Tuscany rather than in Latin, establishing Tuscan as a language standard. The epic poem, a timeless statement on the human condition, consists of one hundred cantos (verses) describing Dante’s journey through the three realms of the afterlife. In 1950, when the Italian government began drafting celebration plans for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth in 1965, it commissioned Salvador Dalí to create illustrations for a special commemorative edition of The Divine Comedy. The artist had been in the news for meeting with the Pope in 1949, where he discussed his new focus on religion in his art. In the following years, 1950 – 1952, Dalí created one hundred original watercolors for the project while living in Portligat. However, it was not to be as the Italian government abandoned the project with Dalí. In 1954, La Libreria della Stato had published a brochure with seven of Dalí’s paintings reproduced as full size lithographs, together with sample pages of the text. There was an immediate uproar. Communists protested what they perceived as a waste of money, money which the government should spend more appropriately. In addition, patriots objected to the work of Italy’s greatest poet being illustrated by a Spaniard. Fortunately, Dalí’s project did not languish and several years later in Paris, Joseph Foret, who had published an edition of Don Quixote by Dalí, started production of the prints as wood engravings. Exceptionally talented engravers worked from April 1959 through November 1963 to carve 3500 separate blocks for the one hundred prints. The French edition of the book was published in Paris around 1963/1964 by two editors – Joseph Foret and Jean Estrade. Foret published the deluxe edition of thirty-three books which included extras like original watercolors, copperplate engravings of the images in black and white, and original copperplates. Estrade published the popular French edition of 4,765 books and Italian and German editions followed subsequently. The progression of Dalí’s one hundred woodcuts closely follows the structure of Dante’s masterpiece, with one cover image and ninety-nine canto images. The three sections of The Divine Comedy are organized by Dante into thirty-three cantos each for Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. In them, Dante describes an imaginary tour with the great Roman poet Virgil as his guide - first down through the nine circles of Hell, then the return ascent through the seven terraces of the Mountain of Purgatory where Dante meets Beatrice. Finally, Beatrice, Dante’s ideal of the perfect woman, leads him through the nine spheres of heaven – not unlike Dalí’s ideal woman, Gala. The comedy of the title is classic in its meaning, representing the happy conclusion which finds Dante with Beatrice in Paradise.
  • Creator:
    Salvador Dalí­ (1904 - 1989, Spanish)
  • Creation Year:
    1964
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 22.5 in (57.15 cm)Width: 20 in (50.8 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    Greenwich, CT
  • Reference Number:
    Seller: WCDALU022UC1stDibs: LU2664214012022
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