ISSN: 20520204
First published in 2014
2 issues per volume
Volume 3 Issue 2
Cover Date: December 2016
Subverting authority in illustrations of Dante’s Commedia
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Authors:  Matthew Collins 
DOI: 10.1386/jill.3.2.173_1

Dante Alighieri,Giovanni di Paolo,William Blake,Gustave Doré,Robert Rauschenberg,Tom Phillips,Sandow Birk,Seymour Chwast

In this article, illustrations of Dante’s Commedia are viewed from the particular angle of textual subversion, which increased in degree over time. After beginning with a consideration of Dante’s own subversive habits in the context of the medieval literary world in order to highlight the fact that illustrators who visually undermined the letter of the text were in ironic harmony with the spirit of this work, the article turns to instances of late medieval and early modern illuminators and illustrators who, in these earlier stages, more subtly punctured the authoritative status which Dante’s text obtained almost immediately following its completion. The article moves on to show that by Dante’s renaissance in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries illustrators felt far freer to blatantly meld their own imaginations with that of the original author, and by the mid-twentieth century, certain Commedia illustrations subjected text to image in varying ways.
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