(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

Dante: Divina Commedia

Manuscript (Ms. Hamilton 201), 320 x 470 mm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Several remarkable illustrated Dante manuscripts exist. Certainly the most famous illustrations of the Divina Commedia are the superb drawings Sandro Botticelli planned for a de luxe manuscript commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici. Although they have remained unfinished, they constitute a pinnacle of the art of book illustration in the Quattrocento.

This almost completely coloured silverpoint drawing gives us an impression of the magnificent way in which all the miniatures were to be produced. It is an illustration to the Inferno, canto XVIII. The main figures, Dante and Virgil, are emphasized by their vibrantly shining robes. While journeying through the ditches of Hell, they first encounter the souls of procurers and seducers being tortured by devils, and then those of sycophants and prostitutes, who are being made to suffer while immersed in ordure.