William Blake
The Devils, with Dante and Virgil by the Side of the Pool 1824–7

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
The Devils, with Dante and Virgil by the Side of the Pool
Date 1824–7
Medium Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 372 x 527 mm
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
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

This is Blake’s illustration to part of Dante’s Inferno, from the Divine Comedy. It shows the trench of corrupt politicians in the eight circle of Hell. Above are the stone bridges that Dante describes as characteristic of this part of Hell, which was reserved for the fraudulent.
The half-submerged figures on the right are people who sold public offices; they are drowning in a sea of boiling pitch. Virgil and Dante are watching on the left, escorted by a group of devils.

February 2004

About this artwork