Amos Nattini's Dante

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Divina Commedia, Imagini di Amos Nattini (Milano: Istituto nazionale dantesco, [1923-1941]). GAX Oversize PQ4302 .F23e. Three volumes; 82 cm. each. 100 color lithographs by Amos Nattini (1892-1985).


In 1921, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, the Istituto nazionale dantesco in Milan commissioned a new, illustrated edition of the poet’s Divine Comedy. The artist chosen for the project was Amos Nattini, who was charged with creating one plate for each canto. For the next twenty years, Nattini worked on his Dante, releasing each of the three volumes are they were completed in 1928, 1936, and finally 1941.

Princeton is fortunate to hold two sets of Nattini’s elephant portfolios, one of which needed to be moved recently. Special thanks go to John Walako and Mike Siravo who helped to lift volumes. No question that this is the heaviest poem ever published.


I thought it might be interesting to compare the first fully illustrated edition of Dante (the third illustrated edition overall). According to Goff B-644, the illustration scheme follows closely that of the Ragazzo/Giunta Italian Bible, which appeared less than five months earlier. A major frontispiece cut within an architectural frame introduces each of the three parts with numerous vignette cuts for the cantos. The cuts have been attributed to Hind’s Venetian popular designer, recently named the Master of Pico.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Commedia (Venice: Bernardinus Benalius and Matteo Capcasa, 3 March 1491). Woodcuts. Edited by Cristoforo Landino and Pietro da Figino. Matteo Capcasa, printer. Prints attributed to the Master of Pico. Rare Books: William H. Scheide Library (WHS) 5.2.9 Three full-page woodcuts and numerous vignettes.