top of page
The Circle of the Lustful watercolor
Blake's Illustrations of Dante
Original engraving 1826
Engraving reprint from 20th Century
Virgil, Dante's guide
Francesca da Rimini
Paolo Malatesta
The hellish wind

“Here the light is mute and the atmosphere alive

with the noise of constant howling, like the sea

under assault by violent gusts that strive

with one another. The Hellish wind blows free,

sweeping the spirits headlong through the air.”

“The Inferno” Canto V, lines 28-32


“As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the saying used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.”

“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” Plate 7


“Blake was then chiefly engaged in completing the engravings of his Illustrations of the Book of Job, which had been commissioned in 1823 by [John] Linnell. Soon after the official publication of the book, on March 8, 1825, Linnell proposed that he do a similar series of engraved illustrations of the Divine Comedy, and offered to pay him in installments of two or three pounds a week for as long as the work lasted” (6).

Blake’s Dante: The Complete Illustrations to the Divine Comedy” by Milton Klonsky


“Bake left 102 designs in various states of completion, ranging from quick pencil sketches to luminous watercolors signed with his monogram. His procedure was to first make a preliminary drawing in pencil, altering it and adding ink, using pen or fine brush; then he applied the colors in broad light washes; and finally, he worked over the whole surface (almost in the manner of Cezanne) by superimposing small touches of color after the ones beneath had dried. … There are only seven engravings, the engraved surface of each measuring 9 ½ by 13 inches and the plate mark approximately 13 ½ by 21 inches—the largest ever attempted by Blake—and all are from designs for the Inferno. Yet even these seven, except for the marvelously detailed Plate 103 “The Circle of the Lustful: Francesca da Rimini,” remained unfinished at his death” (8).

Blake’s Dante: The Complete Illustrations to the Divine Comedy” by Milton Klonsky

bottom of page