Monday, January 4, 2021

Dante and Beatrice


Dante and Beatrice, painted in 1883 by Henry Holiday, is a painting in a style I wouldn't have thought about before, considering my stronger love for cartoons and playful artforms. But it came to me in an odd way, rediscovered in a pile of "cutters" as they were nicknamed, at a time when it meant more than coincidence, even if sought after. The story resonated more than the medium or technique, and according to multiple sources the story is that Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari were in love but not seeing things the same way. Clearly in the painting, he's hurt by her ignorance, her lack of attention, and clearly she knows this, holding a rose while looking away as the other women look right at him.  I haven't found the rest of the story yet but imagine their pasts were complicated leading up to this moment. The realism of the painting style has grown on me because it shows the emotion of the story in a way cartoons could not. The detail that Henry Holiday puts into the people and landscape is that of a master artist, holding your interest and making you curious to find out more about him, his works and what the story meant to him.