John Dickson Batten's
Illustrations for Dante's Inferno
with commentary by Peter Hainsworth
The forty-five illustrations for Dante’s Inferno by John Dickson Batten (1860-1932) are perhaps the greatest achievement of an undeservedly forgotten artist. They were
commissioned in the 1890s by George Musgrave (1855-1932) to accompany the second edition of his idiosyncratic translation of the Inferno, which finally appeared in 1933, a year after the deaths of both men. Musgrave left the illustrations to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where they were displayed for a long time on the walls of what is still known as Hell Passage. In more recent years they have remained hidden away in the college library, unknown even to art historians and Dante scholars. This volume aims to give a broader public than ever before the chance to enjoy both Batten’s imaginative originality and his ability to create arresting visual realisations of scenes and events described in Dante’s great poem.
Peter Hainsworth is an Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall and was formerly a professor of Italian at Oxford. His more recent publications include Dante. A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2015), written jointly with David Robey, and translations of selections from Petrarch’s poems and prose (Hackett, 2010) and from Boccaccio’s Decameron (Penguin, 2015)
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