The Dante Historiato is considered to be one of the most significant and most interesting collections of illustrations of Dante's depiction of the afterlife. With its powerful imagery, this collection has certainly more impact than words. Dated to the last quarter of the 16th century, Dante Historiato is a work produced in Spain by Federico Zuccari (1540-1609). With its 88 drawings, this work represents the most spectacular scenes of the Divina Commedia, with an original interpretation by the artist.
This collection of drawings was made between 1586 and 1588 at the time when Federico Zuccari had been summoned by Philip II of Spain, to the Royal residency of El Escorial. The artist had by this time taken part in the continuation of the Paoline chapel, initiated by Michelangelo, increasing his fame beyond Italy.
Original interpretation of Dante's Divina Commedia by Federico Zuccari
The collection contains the drawings of Dante's Divina Commedia as imagined by Zuccari. These are not only the result of the original and free interpretation of the artist, but they also represent a deep understanding, knowledge, and cultural in-depth analysis, in addition to his association with the most distinguished scholars and intellectuals of the time.
Of the 88 drawings, 28 are dedicated to the depiction of Hell, 49 to Purgatory, and 11 to Paradise. While Hell and Paradise are illustrated using the black and red pencil technique, Purgatory is depicted with pen and watercolor technique. On the verso of each illustration, is an autograph transcription of Dante's text by Zuccari.
At the time of Federico Zuccari's death in 1609, his collection of drawings fell into the possession of the Orsini family, for which the artist had previously worked in the occasion of Paolo Giordano Orsini and Isabella de' Medici. It was later passed on to the Medici family and finally ended up in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.