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Art / Dante and Virgil in Hell

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Dante and Virgil in Hell (alternatively known as Dante and Virgil) is an 1850 oil on canvas painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The painting depicts Dante and Virgil in Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy looking on as two damned souls are entwined in combat. One of the souls is an alchemist and heretic named Capocchio. In this depiction Capocchio is being bitten on the neck by Gianni Schicchi who had used fraud to claim another man's inheritance.

The painting is currently on display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.


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Dante and Virgil in Hell provides examples of:

  • Darker and Edgier: This painting is a rapid departure from Bouguereau's various female nudes, pastoral genre paintings and his "Cupid and Psyche" series. The bodies are strained and frozen in violence, there is a demonic beast in the background and the entire thing is done in a harsh series of red, brown and orange color motif.
  • Fan-Art: The painting depicts Canto XXX from the first act - "Inferno" - of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, itself an old and beloved work of fiction centuries old.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Gianni and Capocchio are fighting with no clothes on whatsoever.
  • Humans Are Bastards: While a demon is present in the painting, all of the suffering generated is between one damned human soul and another. As the lines the painting describes would indicate, the attacker was a man who practiced alchemy attacking Gianni, a man guilty of the sin of fraud that ruined people's lives. Capocchio has no reason to attack Gianni personally, but he does it anyway.
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