Camille Corot Dante and Virgil (Dante et Virgile), 1858 Framed Etching


Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
Dante and Virgil
glass print (cliché-verre),
13 x 15 in
33 x 38 cm
Signed in plate
1858, on fine cream wove paper, the only known state, from the very rare first printing by Charles Desavary.
paper size, 8.75″ x 6.5″
Robaut 3195, Delteil 76, Melot 76

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796 – 1875)

Barbizon school beginning in the 1830s, and a noteworthy precursor of impressionism, he pioneered the idea of working out-of-doors

This fine print of Corot’s mature style depicts an Italianate landscape, staging the two poets, lower right, at the edge of a forest.

Corot rarely illustrated literary themes, but he clearly has read Dante’s Divina Commedia:

The First Canto opens “in a dark wood” (“per una selva oscura”) where Dante has lost his way, and goes on to describe three fearsome beasts confronting him, a panther (“una lonza”), a lion (“un leone”), and a she-wolf (“una lupa”), driving him back; fleeing ever downward, he makes out an apparition, to whom he cries for pity (“Miserere di me”), not knowing if it is a shade or a man…

Worked up in sketchy refinement, the artist’s graphic handling in this glass print renders the subject with a vibrant rhythm that oscillates between realism, classicism, and romanticism.

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