William Blake Dante in the Empyrean, Drinking at the River of Light 1824–7

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Artwork details

Artist
William Blake 1757–1827
Title
Dante in the Empyrean, Drinking at the River of Light
Date 1824–7
Medium Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 528 x 371 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the National Gallery and donations from the Art Fund, Lord Duveen and others, and presented through the the Art Fund 1919
Reference
N03370
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

This is an illustration to Purgatorio (Purgatory) from Dante’s Divine Comedy. It shows the earthly Paradise at the top of the mountain of Purgatory. Here Dante meets Beatrice, who is to become his guide and inspiration.

Dante is wearing red, symbolising love. He kneels down to drink from the river of light, which flows from the sun. Beatrice is shown sitting opposite Dante; Blake’s symbols for the Arts and Nature are immediately above them.

February 2004

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