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Detail from St. James of Hope [Canto 25 of Paradiso in Dante's Divine Comedy]

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Salvador Dalí's Proofs for The Divine Comedy


St. James of Hope [Canto 25 of Paradiso in Dante's Divine Comedy]
Original watercolor by Salvador Dalí
Wood block engraving and printing by Raymond Jacquet and Jean Taricco
Wood engraving
ca. 1960
330 x 254 mm

Gift of Denise and Alan Gross

This animation is 37 seconds long, but in real life it takes a lot of time to make one full-color print.

Each single sheet of paper is run through the press once for every color of ink used—in this case, thirty-three colors. As the inks build up on the paper, the image emerges and clarifies into a scene from Dante's Divine Comedy, illustrated by Salvador Dalí.

Dalí made 100 watercolor illustrations for the Divine Comedy from 1951 – 1960; after that, two master wood engravers took another five years to create the 3,500 wood blocks necessary to reproduce the watercolors as prints.

The Booth Family Center has a complete set of Dante's text and Dalí's printed illustrations for the Divine Comedy. Our special edition also contains several progressive proof sets: single-color impressions (one color per sheet) from each of the different blocks needed for a particular image. The thirty-three sheets for St. James of Hope were scanned and combined in Adobe Photoshop to make the animation above.

Christen Runge, Assistant Curator, University Art Collection