Obelisk Art History
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Dante and Virgil in Hell

Dante and Virgil in Hell, William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Dante and Virgil in Hell, zoomed in
280.5 cmDante and Virgil in Hell scale comparison225.3 cm
See Dante and Virgil in Hell in the Kaleidoscope

Dante and Virgil in Hell is an Academic and Neoclassical Oil on Canvas Painting created by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1850. It lives at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Demons, Afterlife and The Divine Comedy. SourceDownload

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau was known for bright, sexy, crowd-pleasing paintings — he only made one piece that might be considered a work of terribilita or ‘horrific’ art. Dante and Virgil in Hell was painted in a third attempt to win the Prix du Rome, and depicted one of the judges’ favorite themes — a scene from The Inferno, where Dante and Virgil watch a gristly fight between two damned souls.

Though he would not win the Prix with this work — he would finally win with his a later work, Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes — the painting was well recieved. Critic Théophile Gautier would describe the piece, saying:

“Gianni Schicchi throws himself at Capocchio, his rival, with a strange fury, and Monsieur Bouguereau depicts magnificently through muscles, nerves, tendons and teeth, the struggle between the two combatants. There is bitterness and strength in this canvas – strength, a rare quality!”

Reed Enger, "Dante and Virgil in Hell," in Obelisk Art History, Published November 25, 2015; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/william-adolphe-bouguereau/dante-and-virgil-in-hell/.

Further reading atmusee-orsay.fr
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