La Divina Commedia – The New Manuscript: On the Shoulders of Giants

As George works tirelessly to complete his new Divine Comedy, he always looks to 700 years of Art inspired by Dante.

One Man + 700 Years of Art Inspired by Dante

As George works tirelessly to complete his new Divine Comedy manuscript, he always looks to the source material for inspiration: 700 years of art inspired by Dante and over 800 surviving manuscripts of The Divine Comedy, several of them enriched by magnificent painted scenes. His source material is substantial to say the least.

Interested in the whole story of how “La Divina Commedia – The New Manuscript” came to be? Check the index of articles here.

George talks about his sources of inspiration.

Several artists of the past, even important ones like Dalì, created beautiful art inspired by the Divine Comedy, but without real knowledge of its content.
The uniqueness of George’s creation, instead, is that his drawings are inspired and informed directly by Dante’s descriptions.

The uniqueness of George’s creation, instead, is that his drawings are inspired and informed directly by Dante’s descriptions.

To further inform his illustrations, George also looked to the entire history of artists interacting with Dante’s work, becoming familiar with seven centuries of art that included giants like Michelangelo, Botticelli, Gustave Doré, andWilliam Blake, but also lesser known artists such as Manfredo Manfredini, Ebba Holm, and Antonio Zatta.

Finding the Key to the Manuscripts in Facsimiles

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon
London, British Library, Yates Thompson MS 36
Facsimile Edition

In today’s day and age, most illuminated manuscripts live behind closed doors in private collections or libraries, with the most historically important codexes safely secured behind bullet-proof glass. As George continued his research, he discovered illuminated manuscript facsimiles – stunning, high quality copies of the original books.

The facsimiles for me changed everything, literally everything.

Finding the Key to Paradise in Ravenna

George further looked to Dante and his life to inspire his illustrations. In particular, he looked to Dante scholar Laura Pasquini and her study of the poet’s life in Ravenna.
According to today’s leading scholar on art inspired by the Divine Comedy, Professor Lucia Battaglia Ricci, in a conversation with George, called Pasquini’s Iconograpfie Dantesche (2008) the “key to Paradise”.

After a close examination of Iconographie Dantesche, George knew he wanted Pasquini’s research to fundamentally inform his version of Paradise.

Dante wrote Paradise while living his last years in Ravenna. After facing exile from his home city of Florence and roaming for several years, he finally settled in this beautiful city by the sea. According to Pasquini, Dante most likely drew inspiration from the breathtaking mosaics in the city’s churches, churches he visited and prayed in, for the imaginative landscapes of the celestial bodies in Paradise. Unlike most artists over the centuries, George fully embraced this innovative approach to the landscapes of Paradise, and his depictions of the third Canticle are heavily inspired by the same views that Dante loved so much during his final years in Ravenna.

Instead of spending my time floating around drawing clouds, I wanted to anchor my representation of Paradise in the decorations found in the churches and cathedrals in Ravenna, the same images that Dante was looking at when he was imagining what the celestial bodies that occupy Paradise look like.  

Thank You for Continuing This Journey With Us

Our hope is that you, too, will be inspired by the journey we’ve found ourselves on. To kindle a new love for Dante through George’s new illuminated manuscript of the Divine Comedy is close at hand. But without modern day patrons like you, this work of a lifetime will remain unpublished. Stay tuned as we prepare for the launch of our upcoming Kickstarter to fund the publishing of this true lifetime work!

Don’t Miss Out!

Interested in the whole story of how “La Divina Commedia – The New Manuscript” came to be?

0. The Divine Comedy Unveiled in New York: the towering and innovative work that Cochrane has created over the past seven years

1. George Meets Dante: The Love Story & The Passion Project

2. A Monk in New York: A Journey Back in Time

3. On The Shoulders of Giants: One Man + 700 Years of Art Inspired by Dante (you are here)

4. The Commedia & Comics: George Considers the Connections

5. The Artist as Scribe: 350.000 Characters Later…

6. Illustrating the Commedia: Dante’s Color Library

7. Exclusive Book Design Preview: Handcrafted in Italy & Thoughtfully Designed by Giulia Fogliani