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A drawing of two robed figures looking at three naked figures hovering in a spiral of color.

A drawing of two robed figures, one with its back to the viewer and the other with hands raised up, framing its cocked face. They have medium length hair and one robe is pink. From a small green ledge on the left, they view a twisting spiral of red, yellow, green and blue in which three naked figures hover. This swirl of figures and color dominates most of the composition. The figures reach up and out with their arms and their legs are extended behind them. All three figures look towards the robed figures viewing them.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
William Blake, British (London, England 1757 - 1827 London, England)
The Punishment of Rusticucci and His Companions (from Dante's "Divine Comedy")
Other Titles
Alternate Title: The Punishment of Jacopo Rusticucci and His Companions
Series/Book Title: Dante, "The Divine Comedy"
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Watercolor, black ink, graphite, and black chalk on off-white antique laid paper
37 × 52.3 cm (14 9/16 × 20 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower right: HELL [in black ink] / Canto 16 [in graphite]
  • watermark: W ELGAR / 1796
  • inscription: verso, upper left corner, graphite: 88


Recorded Ownership History
Commissioned from the artist by John Linnell, 1821, sold through his sale [Christie's, London, March 15, 1918, as part of lot 148]; to Alec Martin for the National Art-Collections Fund, London. [Scott & Fowles, New York], sold; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop, 1921, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • Dante Alighieri and Henry Francis Cary, The Vision (3 vols.) or Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise of Dante Alighieri, Taylor and Hessey (London, 1819), vol. 1 pp. 136-39 ("Hell" 16.1-53)
  • Alexander Gilchrist, The Life of William Blake: Pictor Ignotus (3 vols.), Macmillan and Co. (London, Cambridge, 1863), vol. 2, pg. 218, no. 101 (b1)
  • William Blake, Illustrations to the Divine Comedy of Dante by William Blake, National Art-Collections Fund (London, 1922), no. 29, repr.
  • Martin Birnbaum, Jacovleff and Other Artists, Paul A. Struck (New York, 1946), pl. 24
  • William Blake, Dante Alighieri, and Helen D. Willard, Blake's Illustrations for Dante, Harvard University Printing Office (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1953), repr.
  • Albert S. Roe, Blake's Illustrations to the Divine Comedy, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1953), pp. 84-85, no. 29, repr.
  • Agnes Mongan, "The Fogg Art Museum's Collection of Drawings", Harvard Library Bulletin, Harvard University (Cambridge, 1958), vol. 3, no. 2, March, pp. 5-9, p. 202
  • Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), cat. no. 98, repr.
  • W.J.T. Mitchell, Blake's composite art: a study of the illuminated poetry, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1978), pp. 63, 73, 105, and repr. fig. 36
  • Milton Klonsky, Blake's Dante: The Complete Illustrations to the Divine Comedy, Harmony Books (New York, 1980), pp. 55, 144, repr.
  • Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 1981), no. 812 (29)
  • W.J.T. Mitchell, "Metamorphoses of the Vortex: Hogarth, Turner, and Blake", Articulate Images: the sister arts from Hogarth to Tennyson, ed. Richard Wendorf, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN, 1983), p. 158 and repr. pl. 6-17
  • Corrado Gizzi, Blake e Dante, exh. cat., Mazzotta (Milan, 1983), pg. 109, no. 31, repr.
  • Anne Maheux, "An Analysis of the Watercolor Technique and Materials of William Blake", Blake: an Illustrated Quarterly (Spring 1984), 17, no. 4, pg. 128
  • Krzystof Z. Cieszkowski, "'They mumuring divide; while the wind sleeps beneath, and the numbers are counted in silence': the Dispersal of the Illustrations to Dante's 'Divine Comedy.'", Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly (Winter 1989-1990), 23, no. 3, pg. 170
  • Eugene Paul Nassar, Illustrations to Dante's Inferno, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Rutherford, NJ, 1994), pg. 201, 208, repr.
  • Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Folio Society (London, England, 1998), repr. in color facing p. 63
  • David Bindman, William Blake: The Divine Comedy/Die göttliche Komödie/La divine comédie, Bibliothèque de l'Image (Paris, 2000), pl. 31 (color)
  • Vincent Pomarède, "La Collection Winthrop: A la recherche de la beauté pure", L'Estampille/L'Objet d'art (April 2003), no. 379, pp. 34-45, repr. p. 40 (color)
  • Anne Bertrand, "Winthrop: le dessein d'une collection", L'Oeil (March 2003), no. 545, fig. 6 (color)
  • Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), cat. no. 148, repr. (color)
  • Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 148, repr.
  • Chakè Matossian, "L'émancipation du film: William Blake et 'Dead Man' de Jim Jarmusch", La Part de l’Œil: Arts plastiques/cinéma (2016-2017), No. 30, pp. 80-103, p. 87, repr.

Exhibition History

  • Original Water-colour Drawings by William Blake to Illustrate Dante, Scott and Fowles, New York, 01/01/1921 - 12/31/1921
  • Exhibition of Watercolors and Drawings by William Blake, 1757-1827, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/01/1947 - 11/30/1947
  • Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/23/1969 - 03/31/1969
  • A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
  • 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/24/2022 - 05/02/2022

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