“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people”
― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and portrays nine circles of Hell. The narrator, together with Roman poet Virgil, explores them as the journey contemplates on recognition and rejection of sin.
In the fifth circle, Phlegyas (king of the Lapiths in Greek mythology) ferries Dante and Virgil across the swampy waters of the river Styx. It is where the wrathful and are punished and are condemned to fight each other on the surface of the damned river. Their punishment reflects their sin.
The fifth circle has been brilliantly captured by the Flanders-born mannerist artist Stradanus and it is one of his most well know works. Stradanus’ works include other paintings that were also inspired from Inferno.
Download Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Take a closer look at the bookshelf above. Looks great, huh? But could you figure out that the blackish left side is not a part of the shelf? Right, it’s just a bookshelf wallpaper. A pretty smart idea and the combination of the real and fake bookshelf looks darn good.
The Plague of Thebes (oil on Canvas) by Charles François Jalabert (1819-1901) alludes to the Athenian Tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Plague strikes Thebes due to corruption caused by the murderer of Laius, the former king of the city. Oedipus, the current ruler, vows to put an end to this only to find out that he is the cause of the plague. He has killed his father, married his mother, and brought curse on his people.
Jalabert rose to fame in the latter half of the 19th century and attended the salon of Madame Sabatier. His other important works include Oedipus and Antigone, for which he won wide acclaim. Some selected paintings of Jalabert, including The Plague of Thebes, can be found in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes. Continue reading
The best oil painting on books I’ve ever seen. How I wish it were my library. The painting reflects the introspective mood of most scholars during Napoleonic wars. The old man, it seems, is oblivious to the affairs of the mundane world. The painting is outright satirical and sneers at intellectuals who seek the dusty solitude of the library. It wasn’t such a bad habit Mr.Spitzweg. People do much worse.