Salvador Dalí | The Divine Comedy

23 June - 25 July 2021

Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy is jealously held as a treasure of Italian literature, so Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí was a controversial choice when he was commissioned to illustrate the epic poem by the Italian Government in 1950. The dispute over the commission finally reached the Italian Parliament and Dalí's contract was duly cancelled. Undeterred, Dalí, with the help of the French publisher Joseph Forêt, decided to complete the project himself and produced 100 sumptuous watercolours in a searing evocation of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in response to Dante's text. These watercolours were then interpreted under Dalí's supervision as wood engravings via 3,500 separate blocks - an astonishing achievement that took just under five years to complete. It is widely considered to be Dalí's finest graphic achievement, and we are delighted to give it a welcome home in the Print Room this summer.


To read more about Dalí's Divine Comedy and the creation of the wood engravings, including a more detailed look at how they were translated from watercolours, please follow this link.