Tom Peterson, (American, 1930-2018), The Divine Comedy, 2001, Oil on canvas, 77” x 82”, Donated by the Family of Tom Peterson. 2019.5
May 20 – August 29, 2021

Path to Paradise:

The Artistic Legacy of Dante’s Divine Comedy

In the decade preceding his death, the Florentine poet and polymath Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) compiled The Divine Comedy, universally identified as a masterwork of Italian literature. In the narrative epic, Dante recounts his journey through the realms of the Catholic afterlife, describing instances of suffering and salvation he witnessed during his travels. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, Dante explores hell (Inferno), purgatory (Purgatorio), and finally heaven (Paradiso), where Virgil is replaced by Dante’s lost love, Beatrice.

With its graphic depictions of eternal punishment and redemption, Dante’s Divine Comedy has served as an artistic and moral template for artists, writers, politicians, and religious leaders since its original publication. In its over seven hundred years of existence, the poem has been illustrated by artists including Sandro Boticelli, Gustave Doré, and Salvador Dalí. It has been referenced by the likes of John F. Kennedy and Pope Francis. More recently, the poem’s first cantica, Inferno, has even been converted into a video game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

This exhibition showcases works inspired by The Divine Comedy completed from the Italian Quattrocento through the contemporary era, illustrating the profound and limitless artistic inspiration drawn from Dante’s source text. Featuring diverse works by artists including Baccio Baldini and Tom Peterson alongside archival texts, Path to Paradise seeks to trace the artistic legacy of Dante’s seminal work through time.Path to Paradise: The Artistic Legacy of Dante’s Divine Comedy is guest curated by Rollins alumnus Isaac Gorres, ’21 in collaboration with the Rollins College Archives and Special Collections at Olin Library.

See the 360-degree virtual view of this exhibition.

See exhibition-related programs:

Lecture with Isaac Gorres '21, Guest Curator, former Fred Hicks Curatorial Fellow

Baccio Baldini, (Italian, 1436-1487), Dante and Virgil with a Vision of Beatrice, ca. 1481-7, Engraving on paper, 3 3/4 x 6 3/4 in., Gift of Mrs. Ruth Funk, 2001.4.1
Salvador Dalí, (Spanish, 1904-1989), The Garden of Christ, 1964, Woodcut, Bequest of the estate of Blaine L. Lucas, Jr. '44. 1970.7© Salvador Dalí/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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