Dante’s Inferno, now off the page

18 01 2012

The dedication of the Rylands staff to the collections is legendary, but this really goes some way above and beyond the call of duty. One of the team (not me, I should add) has recently acquired this frankly spectacular example of literal knowledge transfer:

The expert readers of this blog will of course be able to identify this as the frontispiece plate of the 1481 Florence ‘Landino’ edition, the behemoth book of the Dante collections.

You can see a larger version of the print here in Luna.

The engraving is by Baccio Baldini, the probable engraver of the illustrations in this edition. It shows the fresco of the Inferno in the Campo Santo of Pisa cathedral, which was destroyed in the Second World War, identified in the title in the top left corner of the image ‘QVESTO+ELINFERNO+DEL+CHA[M]POSAN TO+DIPISA+’, below:

I wonder if the addition of this frontispiece plate was a common feature of the illustrated editions of the 1481 Dante, as the copy held in the Beinecke Library at Yale also has the same plate pasted-in?

Anyway, apparently the body art Inferno isn’t finished yet, so what you see here is just the outline, with a few bits that still need touching up. We will, of course, keep you posted on progress. Meanwhile, the ambulant inscription may, perhaps, be viewable by application at the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, if you ask very nicely.



One response

20 01 2012
A revolution in printing. | Leeds Dante Diaries

[…] story just keeps getting better and better because yesterday, it came to my attention (via the Manchester Dante blog), that hardcore Manchester librarian – and general LEGEND – Jamie has had this very […]

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