About The Divine Comedy

In the early 1950’s Dali was invited by the Italian government to commemorate Dante’s birth by producing a series of illustrations for a full-text, deluxe edition of The Divine Comedy, to be published by La Libreria dello Stato in Rome. Ultimately, the illustrations were not well received by the Italians, as it was deemed inappropriate for a Spanish painter (rather than an Italian painter) to have illustrated the masterpiece of Italy’s greatest poet.

Even though the project was dropped in Italy, Dali and French publisher Joseph Foret continued to pursue publication of The Divine Comedy. Mr. Foret acted as broker between Salvador Dali and Les Heures Claires, a French editing and publishing house that ultimately took full charge of the project. Jean Estrade, the Artistic Director, worked closely with expert engravers to create the works under Dali’s supervision. Wood engraving was the medium chosen due to its ability to recreate subtle washes and delicate lines.

The Divine Comedy suite consists of 100 color wood engravings created between 1960 and 1964 after 100 watercolors painted between 1951 and 1960. Mr. Raymond Jacquet and his assistant Mr. Tarrico created the engravings with the participation and final approval by Dali. More than 3,000 blocks were necessary to complete the engraving process.

Mr. Jean Estrade, Artistic Director (l’Editeur) for Editions Les Heures Claires, Paris, working directly with Salvador Dali and Mr. Jacquet, was the exclusive editor for the Divine Comedy. Also working with Mr. Estrade was Antoine Branducci, Honorary Administrator of Les Heures Claires. Mr. Estrade was succeeded by Mr. Daniel David, current Director of Les Heures Claires.