A facsimile reproduction of the “Codice Trivulziano 1080” from 1921, published on the six hundredth anniversary of Dante’s death and kept in the Biblioteca Trivulziana in Milan. From special collections.
A new exhibition curated by the Department of University Libraries Special Collections and the Italian program in Institute for World Languages, Literatures and Cultures is now on display on the lobby level of the Mullins Library. “Illuminating Dante” commemorates the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) and celebrates the month of Italian-American heritage and culture in October.
The exhibition, presented from October 5 to 31, consists of 22 objects from special collections, including a recently acquired 1520 copy of the Divine Comedy with commentary by Cristoforo Landino, a full-page woodcut illustration and 98 smaller woodcuts that introduce each chant. There are also various editions of Dante’s masterpiece in Italian and English, with illustrations by Gustave Doré and John Flaxman, as well as works made with the Divine Comedy, including a collection of poems by Vittoria Colonna (1548) and a treatise by Lucrezia Marinella (1601).
The exhibition includes medieval, early modern and modern illustrations of theDivine Comedy, from 13th-century illuminations to illustrations by Sandro Botticelli and William Blake. Finally, the exhibition shows works that examine the reception of Dante’s masterpiece in cultural contexts, with works from countries such as Spain and France. Examples from the Afro-American community are also represented.
The exhibition was organized by students in Italian 4123, “Dante: A Journey Between Visions and Words”. In small groups, they had the choice between several research options; Then they met in the Mullins Library’s special collections area and looked at a variety of Dante artifacts. The students compared and contrasted illustrations from different periods, and two groups with advanced knowledge of Italian compared prose and verse translations of certain passages and transcribed the first paragraphs of a manuscript copy of theDivine Comedy.
“Our university’s special collections area is exceptional,” said Stephen Meehan. “A 500 year old edition of Dante’sDivine Comedy and related work brought our class an enhanced learning experience. “
“I really enjoyed the experience we had,” said Pablo Linares de Avila. “It gave our work so much more meaning. I had never come into contact with books that old.”
The exhibition is sponsored by the Italian Consulate General in Houston, Texas. More information can be found on the Illuminating Dante website.
Questions can be sent to Joshua Youngblood and Kara Flynn in special collections or Ryan Calabretta-Sajder and Daniela D’Eugenio in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.