Conférence : « Dante 1481. The Comedia, illustrated by Botticelli », en ligne, 4 mai 2021

The 1481 edition of Dante’s La Comedia was printed in Florence by Nicolaus Laurentii, Alamanus. Produced in the first decades of new printing technology in Europe, this was also the first edition to emerge from the city of Dante’s birth. With engravings attributed to Baccio Baldini from designs by Sandro Botticelli, this ambitious book could potentially have been the first fully illustrated edition of the poem.

Yet no more than the first 19 cantos have printed illustrations in any of the surviving copies. Blank spaces have been left elsewhere in the book for more. In many of the 156 copies known to exist around the world, the number of illustrations is far lower, some appearing misplaced or upside down or supplemented by later images. Each copy has developed its own unique history and provenance as the books have spread across Europe and beyond in the 540 years since they were first printed.

Showing rare books online

2021 marks the 540th anniversary of the edition’s publication and the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. To celebrate, this event will display copies from Italy, the U.S.A. and the U.K. and to hear the books’ stories from their current keepers. We’ll be using online technology developed during the lockdown to give the audience visual access to copies that couldn’t otherwise be brought together physically at one time.


The event includes short talks on Botticelli’s illustrations (Professor Gervase Rosser, University of Oxford), on surviving copies (Professor Cristina Dondi, University of Oxford and Secretary of CERL) and on the context of the book’s production (Dr. Tabitha Tuckett, UCL).

Participating libraries include:

  • Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK (co-organiser)
  • University College London, UK (co-organiser)
  • Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Italy
  • The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, USA
  • The British Library, UK
  • John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, UK
  • Trinity College, Cambridge, UK

Hosts, sponsors and organisers

This event is hosted as part of two series:

Dante 1321-2021: A Man For All Season (Italian Cultural Institute of London)

The Bibliographical Society of America’s Spring Events Series

We are grateful to the Italian Cultural Institute of London, the Bibliographical Society of America, and UCL Special Collections for their support.

The event is organised by Dr Tabitha Tuckett, Rare-Books Librarian, University College London, Cristina Dondi, Professor of Early European Book Heritage, University of Oxford and Secretary of the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), and Dr Alexandra Franklin, Co-ordinator, Centre for the Study of the Book, Bodleian Libraries.

The event will take place on Zoom in English . Captions in English and automated written translation of these into Italian will be available. The event will be recorded for use by the event partners.


Citer ce billet
Florence Larcher (2021, 2 mai). Conférence : « Dante 1481. The Comedia, illustrated by Botticelli », en ligne, 4 mai 2021. Collectif d'Historiens de l'Art de la Renaissance. Consulté le 20 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Florence Larcher

Florence Larcher est doctorante à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches sur les images de saint Roch en Italie de 1350 à 1680 l'amènent à étudier la peinture murale, la sérialité et l'itinérance des peintres.

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