Salvador Dalí, ‘"The Divine Comedy" series Purgatory Canto 13 "The Second Terrace"’, 1959, Tranter-Sinni Gallery
Salvador Dalí, ‘"The Divine Comedy" series Purgatory Canto 13 "The Second Terrace"’, 1959, Tranter-Sinni Gallery

The DIVINE COMEDY is the major work of Italian literature. It was written by DANTE Alighieri between 1307 and 1321.

The work is divided into three parts (Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven), and comprises 100 CANTOS.

In 1957, DALI was approached by the Italian government to illustrate the DIVINE COMEDY. A contract was signed, and DALI set to work. The entire work required more than 3,500 carved wood blocks.

In 1958, a new government was elected in Italy, which objected to the idea of entrusting the illustration of the DIVINE COMEDY to a foreign artist. As a result, DALI contacted two Parisian publishers, Joseph FORET and Jean ESTRADE, and jumped on an aeroplane. A new contract was signed, ensuring that one of the most beautiful works illustrated by DALI would in fact be French!

About Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí was a leading proponent of Surrealism, the 20-century avant-garde movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious through strange, dream-like imagery. “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision,” he said. Dalí is specially credited with the innovation of “paranoia-criticism,” a philosophy of art making he defined as “irrational understanding based on the interpretive-critical association of delirious phenomena.” In addition to meticulously painting fantastic compositions, such as The Accommodations of Desire (1929) and the melting clocks in his famed The Persistence of Memory (1931), Dalí was a prolific writer and early filmmaker, and cultivated an eccentric public persona with his flamboyant mustache, pet ocelot, and outlandish behavior and quips. “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure,” he once said. “That of being Salvador Dalí.”

Spanish, 1904-1989, Figueres, Spain