"And when the Holy Church lay gored and rent by the fierce Lombard's tusk, beneath its wings Charlemain, in triumph, to her rescue went."
The Divine Comedy (Italian: Commedia, later christened "Divina" by Giovanni Boccaccio), written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321, is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the Christian afterlife is a culmination of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church. It helped establish the Tuscan dialect in which it is written as the Italian standard.
The Divine Comedy suite consists of 100 color woodcut engravings created between 1960 and 1964 after 100 watercolors painted between 1951 and 1960.
In the mid 1950s, the Italian Minister of Culture commissioned Salvador Dali to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy, to be published in 1965 in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth in Florence in 1265.
Dali's newly illustrated version of the European classic would be released in a year of celebratory fairs, symposia and readings during the great author's septecentennial. A bibliophile's dream, Dali's Divine Comedy, was published in six, slip-cased volumes – two each for Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise – with a total of 100 Dali wood engravings corresponding to the 100 stanzas or cantos in the epic poem.