The Divine Comedy begins with the meeting between Dante and Virgil, the ancient Roman poet, in a dark wood, represented in the first initial in this manuscript. The two embark on a journey through Hell and Purgatory to Paradise, where Dante is finally reunited with his true love, Beatrice. Many copies were made of this very popular work, with imaginative illustrations depicting the torments of Hell and the joys of Paradise. This copy, produced for Alfonso V, king of Aragon, Naples and Sicily (r. 1416–1458), was illustrated by two artists working in Sienna. The vivid, subtly coloured scenes of Paradise are by Giovanni de Paolo (d. 1482), celebrated for his panel paintings, and the remaining images and decoration are attributed to Priamo della Quercia (d. 1467), brother of the sculptor, Jacopo.
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
Art, music and literature blossomed in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the wealth of sources in the British Library’s collections. Dr Alixe Bovey explores the evolution of art and culture in the Middle Ages.
- Article by:
- Roberta Klimt
- Politics and religion
From his politics and religious writings to Paradise Lost, Roberta Klimt traces how the life and work of John Milton was guided by the principle of freedom of thought and how in doing so he challenged fundamental aspects of 17th-century society.