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Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy Hardcover – November 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Royal Academy Books; 1ST edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810966336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810966338
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli is probably best known for Birth of Venus and Primavera, two commissions for the young Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici. The same delicate, rhythmic line and fanciful imagination can be found in another project for this patron: an unfinished set of drawings from the 1480s that illustrate The Divine Comedy, Dante's chronicle of his vividly imagined travels through the Inferno and Purgatory to Paradise.

For those familiar with the jewel-like colors of Botticelli's paintings, it may come as a shock that many of the 92 drawings that survive are very faint preliminary sketches. (They were made with a metal point on sheep parchment, sometimes touched up with pen and ink. A few have been colored in.) But just as the poet Virgil serves as the 35-year-old epic hero's indispensable guide, the astute running commentary in this book helps modern readers perceive how Botticelli subtly evokes the hero's feelings. "Botticelli's Dante is guided above all by his eyes," writes Hein-Thomas Schulze Altcappenberg, chief curator of Berlin's Kupferstichkabinett. "[They] are literally opened in proportion to his enlightenment, until his vision ultimately dissolves in an image of pure beauty, liberated from constraints of time and space."

By showing multiple views of the characters in a single drawing, Botticelli portrays Dante's successive reactions to what he sees and Virgil's responses to his charge's state of mind. And by giving every group of doomed souls a distinctive gesture or expression, he follows the poet's lead in illuminating both the individual and the universal. Published to accompany the exhibition of the same title that has been shown in Berlin and Rome and continues at the Royal Academy of Arts in London through June 2001, this book represents a triumph of accessible scholarship, intelligent design, and deeply rewarding content. --Cathy Curtis

From Publishers Weekly

A more artful set of interpretations can be found in Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy, an uncompleted set of 91 drawings commissioned a little over 500 years ago by Lorenzo de' Medici. Some, even with the superb, nearly full-page reproductions here, are a little hard to make out, so fragile is their vellum and faded their sepia inks. But others, in full-color or still in outline only, and scattered among the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, are breathtaking in their imaginative illuminations of Dante's lines. Essays by a slew of international scholars and commentary on each drawing, placing it within the poem and within the period's norms for illustration, round things out. Mar.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By barrie ashby on February 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinary book. It's like finding a rare and beautiful volume in an antiquarian bookstore. The book consists of almost a hundred drawings by Botticelli, made around 1500 to illustrate Dante's Divine Comedy of 1300.
The drawings are marvelous. The devils and monsters are rather tame by modern standards but the thousands of individual characters are beautifully drawn and are easily recognizable as Botticelli's work even to the untrained eye. Botticelli illustrates each canto like a modern day story board or sequence of drawings in a cartoon strip. The action follows all of the events described in each canto. I pored over the drawings every evening for a month. I used a recent translation of the Inferno as my guide to this section. Opposite each drawing is a short but comprehensive summary of the canto together with a description of the drawing. The summary was sufficient to carry me through the Purgatorio and Paradiso sections and the descriptions were extremely helpful and never pedantic.
The book is superbly produced with informative essays and excellent photographs of paintings by Botticelli to illustrate his style. Even the dust cover is well-made and robust. It is illustrated with a scene of Dante and Virgil crossing a bridge over a pit of burning souls (the evil counselors). The hard cover of the book is embossed with the flames from the same scene, making it a very attractive volume.
Most of the drawings, which were intended to be colored, are unfinished, but this adds to the interest since it's possible to see how the artist worked. In some, the drawings are so dense and complex that you might need a magnifying glass to see them.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Diva64 on December 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a former museum photographer, I can speak to the fine reproductions in this volume. The complexity of reproducing drawings of such fine detail in print is quite difficult if not impossible. One would expect to find this quality at a much greater price. This volume is not only a master work of techical ability, but the history revealed in the essays is astounding. I actually could not put it down. As a painter working with the subject matter, it provided an invaluable resource.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By guido zargani on February 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
i heard of this drawings thru a brief documentary on Dante's Divine Comedy,and managed to track down a book about this subject, finally consulted Amazon to get it .Frankly when i saw the relatively modest price tag ,i did not imagine that in fact the book is not only a first class Art book worth( in an ideal world a bit less insane that the present one)much more than some 40 euros ,with a magisterially commented analysis ,and a magnificent one at that,for each of these trascendental drawings.Moreover the riproduction of the drawings is excellent,and the close examination of each of them with a magnifying lens can only leave a passionate of both Dante and of Great Painting simply speechless.Congratulations to authors,editors and everybody who made this available, from a humble old lover of Dante,of Painting and Music , those things that can stiil distinguish us from the "bestie', the "bruti" ,sincerely,guido zargani
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