William Blake The Circle of the Lustful: Francesca da Rimini (‘The Whirlwind of Lovers’) 1826–7, reprinted 1892

Artwork details

Artist
William Blake 1757–1827
Title
The Circle of the Lustful: Francesca da Rimini (‘The Whirlwind of Lovers’)
Date 1826–7, reprinted 1892
Medium Line engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 243 x 335 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
A00005
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

After the success of the engravings of 'The Book of Job', Linnell commissioned Blake to make prints of the Dante series as well. However by the time of Blake's death in 1827 only seven engravings had been made. This one illustrates a scene from Canto 5 of 'Hell'. Virgil shows Dante those 'whom love bereav'd of life', including Paolo and Francesca. The daughter of a thirteenth-century lord of Ravenna, Francesca fell in love with her husband's brother, Paolo. The betrayed husband had them both put to death. Dante, full of compassion, faints. Paolo and Francesca are also shown, truly united, above Virgil's head. Blake's original watercolour is in the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham.

August 2004

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