Salvador Dali - Divine Comedy

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Salvador Dali Divine Comedy – 1963

Salvador Dali – Spain (1904 – 1989)

The Salvador Dali Divine Comedy is a poem by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).  It illustrates the journey from Inferno to Purgatory to Paradise. Between 1951 and 1960, Dali was invited by the Italian government to commemorate the birth of Dante Alighieri.  He is Italy’s most famous poet.  Dali produced a series of illustrations for a full-text Deluxe edition of Dante’s masterpiece, the Divine Comedy. The works were not deemed appropriate for a Spanish painter to illustrated the work of Italy’s greatest poet.  The illustrations were not well received by the Italians. And the project was dropped in Italy. However Dali and French publisher Joseph Foret continued to pursue the publication of the Divine Comedy by giving the project to Les Heures Claires, a French editing and publishing company. Finally, after 55 months of hard work the edition was completed the 23rd of November 1963.

Salvador Dali, in the course of the Divine Comedy project, created 101 watercolor drawings interpreting the book. These drawings are then reproduced using a wood engraving technique. With this technique, wood engravers carved 3500 woodblocks for the prints that make up the book. This results in 100 woodblocks in the French edition. Two different editors publish the French edition. Therefore there are 4765 books in French and 3188 in Italian. Later, in 1974, a German edition with a stated size of 1000 is also published.

The suite contains incredible imagery ranging from the grotesque to the sublime, as our artist follows Dante from the deepest circles of Inferno, up the mountain of Purgatory, and into heavenly Paradise. These works have been created by the technique of wood engraving: a total of 3,500 blocks of woods were carved, approximately 35 separate blocks per image. Dali himself thought this suite to be one of the most important of his career and it is considered by many today to be his most incredible and notable work.  Here are two links 1 and 2 for information about the Divine Comedy.

Each volume includes a title page, a table of contents, and a justification page, all contained in a cardboard slipcase with matching inner boards. Salvador Dali’s Divine Comedy woodblocks form part of a Canto or book chapter, about 8 pages long. Each sheet measures approximately 13″ x 10 1/3″, with an image size of 7 1/4″ x 9 1/2″. For more about the various Salvador Dali Divine Comedy books, click on this link: Salvador Dali Divine Comedy Books.

I buy only complete sets of the Salvador Dali Divine Comedy. If the book covers are in poor condition, I split the set and sell the individual illustrations. Whether a woodblock is unsigned or plate signed varies between books and is random. The pricing starts at $ $60.00, for unsigned woodblocks and $200.00. Each Salvador Dali Divine Comedy illustration comes with a certificate of authenticity for the entire set. When you purchase, I include the entire Canto (text, cover page, and illustration, as available). The availability of unsigned and plate-signed illustrations changes regularly, so please request availability and condition reports for the works you are interested in.

The German Edition: 

The German Edition differs in that all of the woodblocks are block signed and contain no text, just the woodblock prints mounted on an Arches backing paper and covered with another piece of Arches paper with a cutout for the woodblock image. For more information about the German edition of the Dali Divine Comedy, see the separate page on the German edition.

Decompositions are available with some of the sets. Click on this link Salvador Dali Divine Comedy Decompositions for more information.

For additional background information click on this link for more information.

E-mail for Price and condition report.