Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell (1857 – 1858) by Edgar Degas

Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell - Edgar Degas - 1857 - 1858

Artwork Information

TitleDante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell
ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1857 - 1858
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell

The artwork titled “Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell” was created by Edgar Degas between 1857 and 1858. It was executed using oil on canvas and is attributed to the literary painting genre, though it predates Degas’ association with the Impressionist movement with which he is most commonly identified. The artwork is currently held within a private collection.

The artwork depicts a scene inspired by the literary work of Dante Alighieri, specifically the “Inferno,” which is the first part of his epic poem “The Divine Comedy.” It portrays the figures of Dante, in red, and his guide Virgil, as they stand at the precipice of Hell. The ominous atmosphere of the painting is achieved through a dark palette, with the figures only minimally illuminated against the murky background. This visual representation captures the suspense and trepidation that one might imagine Dante and Virgil experiencing at this pivotal moment in the narrative. The painting’s distinctive brushwork and use of color align with the early practices of Degas, hinting at the innovative approach to composition and light that would later define his contribution to the Impressionist movement.

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