In Rome Dante’s Inferno according to the great masters, from Botticelli to Rodin – Rome

José Benliure Gil, Charon’s boat, 1896, Olio su canvas, 176 x 103 cm Valencia, Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia, Inv. 805 © Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia

Roma – A large group of damned, demons and charons is preparing to parade through the halls of the Quirinale Stables making their way through terrifying places and lacerating infernal visions interpreted by the masters of the brush, from the Middle Ages to today.
It will happen next fall, from 15 October to 9 January, in Rome, where a new exhibition entirely dedicated to Dante will enrich the busy agenda of celebrations in honor of the Supreme, 700 years after his death.
With its spectacular images, Inferno, this is the title of the review curated by the French art historian Jean Clair, will accompany visitors in a whirlwind of medieval scenes and Renaissance and Baroque inventions, making them vacillate between the tormented visions of the Romantics and the psychoanalytic interpretations of the twentieth century.

Pieter Huys, Inferno, 1570, Olio su tavola, 86 x 82 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, Inv. P002095 © Photographic Archive | Courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Madness, alienation, war, extermination are i topoi of this experience which will see an entire section dedicated to the different transliterations of the experience of Hell on earth, while, having passed the culmination of evil, the path will find its highest expression in the evocation of the idea of ​​salvation. The same one entrusted by Dante to the last verse of the Cantica: “and then we went out to see the stars”.

First major art exhibition focused on this theme, Inferno will tell the persistence of the iconography of the world of the damned from the Middle Ages to the present day. Over two hundred works of art granted on loan by over eighty institutions, including museums, public collections and prestigious private collections, will see theInferno described by Pieter Huys with the manuscript The city of God of Sant’Agostino, from the Sainte Genevieve Library in Paris, or still The temptations of Sant’Antonio Abate from Jan Brueghel with the Constellation di Gerhard Richter from 1969.


Anonymous, Hell, c.1510 – 1520, Oil on panel, 217.5 x 119 cm, Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga © Bridgeman Images

While Mario De Simoni, president of Ales – Scuderie del Quirinale – anticipates that Inferno it will be a “powerful exhibition, capable of capturing and representing with the force of images the total moral impulse of the Comedy, which through an apocalyptic vision of the world tends to a prodigious action of individual and collective redemption”, the title of some particularly awaited work transpires . Thanks to the extraordinary support of the Vatican Apostolic Library, the infernal chasm by Sandro Botticelli, the most famous and emblematic masterpiece of the iconography of Hell, will be loaned for the first weeks of the exhibition.


Sandro Botticelli, Map of Hell, 1480-90, Vatican Apostolic Library

Besides masterpieces by Beato Angelico, Bosch, Goya, Manet, Delacroix, Balla, at the opening of the itinerary, visitors will admire the 1: 1 scale cast model of the monumental Gate of Hell by Auguste Rodin, spectacular narrative key of the exhibition. The pinnacle of all-time artistic reflections on Dante’s poem, the work is an exceptional loan from the Musée Rodin in Paris, the subject of a significant organizational effort.

Read also:
• From words to images: Dante’s Inferno soon on display at the Scuderie del Quirinale

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