Museums and Art

“The Abyss of Hell”, Sandro Botticelli - description of the painting

“The Abyss of Hell”, Sandro Botticelli - description of the painting

The Abyss of Hell - Sandro Botticelli. 32 x 47 cm

Sandro Botticelli is represented by contemporary artists as an artist whose main motifs were beauty, optimism, a life-affirming beginning. However, this is not entirely true. Botticelli was a rather mysterious and very religious person, it’s enough to mention that he was fond of the gloomy sermons of Savonarola, and the execution of this reformer monk had a great influence on the painter. Art critics know that in Botticelli’s works one can also find quite tragic, pessimistic works, one of which is a picture, or rather a drawing, “The Abyss of Hell”, also called “Circles of Hell”, “Map of Hell” or laconic “Hell”.

In 1480, Lorenzo Medici ordered an illustrated manuscript with the text of Dante's popular “Divine Comedy”. The illustrative part was assigned to Sandro Botticelli, and although the painter did not finish this work, even in this form it looks more than impressive. Of all the drawings, "The Abyss of Hell" is the most ambitious illustration.

Dante presented hell as a kind of cyclical form, where the whole kingdom is divided into nine circles, which, in turn, are divided into rings. Botticelli very accurately approached the text of the poem, depicting not only all the rings and circles, but also the individual stops that, according to the plot of the Divine Comedy, were made by Dante and his guide Virgil on the way to the center of the earth.

The farther the circle, the worse and more painful the sin. We see how every sinner suffers after death for his earthly deeds. Botticelli depicts hell as a funnel, tapering to the center of the earth, where Lucifer lives in prison.

Circle 1 - these are unbaptized infants and the Old Testament righteous, whose punishment is painless sorrow. In the 2nd circle there are voluptuous people who are tormented by a hurricane and blows to the rocks. The third circle is the abode of the glutton, rotting in the rain, and the fourth is the mean-spirits and embezzlers who drag from place to place of gravity and, when faced, lead fierce disputes. In the 5th circle are the souls of the discouraged and angry, their punishment is a fight in a swamp with a bottom from the hearts of discouraged. The 6th circle met Dante with false teachers and heretics lying in red-hot graves. In the 7th circle - rapists, the 8th circle - these are deceivers and deceivers located along the cracks. And, finally, the 9th circle is a reservoir of souls who committed the worst sin - betrayal. They were forever frozen in the ice along the neck with faces turned down.

To understand the scale and scrupulousness of Botticelli's work, the drawing should be considered very carefully, and when studying the reproduction one will have to resort to the help of a magnifying glass - and then, the whole Dante’s narrative will unfold before the viewer with all the accuracy and power of the poetic word.


Watch the video: Dante Alighieri - Göttliche Komödie - 9 Kreise des Inferno (December 2021).