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This engraving, showing a scene from Canto 29 of Dante’s Inferno, reproduces the original watercolour.

Blake’s print can also be compared with John Flaxman’s interpretation of the scene, which is shown in a display case in the centre of the room. Flaxman’s composition focuses almost exclusively on the sinners themselves, with Dante and Virgil only just seen in the top right corner. Blake’s illustration seems more other-worldly, especially the bridge of petrified figures on the left, which may represent Fallen Man.  

August 2004