Art Spotlight: Dante and Virgil in Hell

Dante and Virgil in Hell Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Here we see Dante and Virgil in Hell. As they observe the suffering of the wrathful, they too are observed by a demon of the Malebranche. This would appear to be a scene from Canto VII, in which our Infernonauts encounter three of the damned...

And I, who stood intent upon beholding, Saw people mud-besprent in that lagoon, All of them naked and with angry look. They smote each other not alone with hands, But with the head and with the breast and feet, Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth. Said the good Master: "Son, thou now beholdest The souls of those whom anger overcame; And likewise I would have thee know for certain.

This stunning painting comes to us from French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) and it really sets itself apart from most Inferno illustrations in the eroticism of the brutal combat, the starkly realistic expressions of empathic shock and of course that haunting demon visage floating in the background.

Detail. l
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

I used the painting in my article "Top 10 Mindblowers: Nudity" and figured it deserved special consideration in its own post.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.