Dante Alighieri - Divine Comedy, 1481

Dante Alighieri (Florence, 1265 - 1321, Ravenna)

Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], 1481

Printed ink on paper , 43 x 31 cm (16 15/16 x 12 3/16 in.)


This book is Botticelli's first attempt to illustrate the Divine Comedy.  It was an experiment in using engravings which, unlike woodcuts, required an additional run through the printing press.  The process must have proved too difficult, because the project was abandoned and many copies were produced without the illustrations.  The Gardner copy is a rare complete example containing all nineteen engravings.  

Isabella purchased this volume from the Earl of Crawford's sale in London, to the delight of her fellow members of the Dante Society who had been encouraging American collectors to purchase fine copies of the Divine Comedy so that they would be available to students in their own country.