- William Blake 1757–1827
- Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
- Support: 372 x 527 mm
- 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
N 03358 / B 812 40
Pencil, pen and watercolour 372×527 (14 5/8×20 3/4)
Inscribed ‘HELL Canto 22’ in ink b.r. and, on reverse in pencil, ‘8t’ t.l. turned through a right-angle
Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the National Gallery and donations from the National Art-Collections Fund, Lord Duveen and others, and presented through the National Art-Collections Fund 1919
PROVENANCE As for N03351
EXHIBITED Tate Gallery (41 ix), Manchester (48 ix), Nottingham (42 xiv) and Edinburgh (63) 1913–14; Paris and Vienna 1937 (20)
LITERATURE Rosseti 1863, p.219 no.101m1, and 1880, p.230 no.123m1; Roe 1953, pp.94–5 no.40, repr.; Hagstrum 1964, pp.125–6, pl.70; Klonsky 1980, p.147, pl.42; Butlin 1981, pp.568–9 no.812 40; Gizzi 1983, p.120 repr.
This is an illustration to Inferno XXII, 1–30, a general impression of the trench of corrupt politicians in the eighth circle, that of the fraudulent. On the right sellers of public office are seen in a sea of boiling pitch. Virgil and Dante, with an escort of devils, are shown on the left. The arched forms are the stone bridges that characterise this part of Dante's Hell.