Menu Close


This halftone reproduction of a drawing by Blake for Dante’s Divine Comedy is in landscape orientation. The image shows a series of figures standing in a fantastic scene dominated by a supernatural griffin-like creature, who is drawing the Car of Beatrice. In the foreground and the bottom left corner of the page are two women standing side-by-side. The woman on the left has both arms raised straight up above her, facing the viewer straight on. She is wearing a long and dark dress that flows closely around her body, forming a tight outline around her. She has bare feet, and her slightly lifted left foot has the toes pointed forward and down. Her hair is curly and pulled back behind her head. The woman to the right of her is standing facing the viewer, but turned slightly to the right side of the page. Her face is visible in three-quarters profile. She has on a similarly dark and flowing dress to the other woman. Her right arm rests down by her side, and her left arm is bent up at the elbow with her left hand positioned with the palm facing upwards. The women are both standing on an uneven outdoor ground. To the right of the women is the wheel of Beatrice’s car, a swirl comprised of fast-moving air with single eyes floating about within. Beatrice stands upon it in idealized, supernatural form, wearing the crown of heaven and a cape, but otherwise naked. Her arm is raised and she is addressing the Apostles, represented in their symbolic guises, glimpsed in cloud forms. To her left are faces of an eagle (John) and a Lion (Mark). To her right are an ox (Luke) and an idealized man (Matthew). Around and behind these figures in the background are many tendrils with eyes. There is a thin tube of what seems to be cloud material that travels horizontally across the top of the page in the background of the crowned woman, foregrounded over the tendrils. The top left and right corners of the page are darkened background sky. In the foreground, to the right of the car, and before the griffin creature, is a figure with their back to the viewer, but their head is turned to face the left side of the page. The figure’s face is visible in profile. The figure’s left hand is pointed down and slightly out to the left, and the right arm is lifted up to be parallel with the horizontal ground. Below the left pointer finger of the figure is a floating, open, blank book. The figure’s right leg is pulled back and crosses over the straight left leg. To the right of the figure is the griffin creature, in profile facing right. The griffin’s body is mammal-like, with a large torso and thick legs. The front legs have claws and scales. The creature’s chest and upper-back are covered with furry feathers. The face has a large beak and one large eye is visible. The artist appears to have lightly drawn in wings jutting out from the sides of its chest and up. To the right of the creature and facing it stands Dante, the poet. He is turned towards the left, showing a three-quarters profile, wearing a long dark robe. Along the bottom edge of the page, about one-third of the way in from the right page edge, is the text: “P_go Canto 29”.