Friday 31 January 2020
Victoria University Common Room
89 Charles Street West
(rear entrance Burwash Hall)
Dante’s Inferno has inspired countless illustrations, maps, paintings and sculptures, including Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell, originally commissioned in 1880 for the doors of a museum that was never built. But aside from 4-5 figures (Dante, Paolo, Francesca and Ugolino), the other 180+ figures in Rodin’s Portal seem to bear little correspondence to Dante’s Inferno. This presentation will investigate the evolution of Rodin’s Porte de l’Enfer, from the early sketches, architectural designs and maquettes to its final form, in attempt to identify Rodin’s influences and models. While the Portal cannot be considered an adaptation of Dante’s text, some figures bear more correspondence than one would think, even after being freed from Hell and given a life of their own (Dante becomes The Thinker and Paolo and Francesca become The Kiss). Although divided by more than five centuries, both Dante and Rodin share and depict the universal struggles of a suffering humanity.
Ernesto Virgulti is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Brock University.