Ary Scheffer (Dutch, 1795-1858)
Oil on fabric, Framed: 45.5 x 53 x 7.5 cm (17 15/16 x 20 7/8 x 2 15/16 in.); Unframed: 24.7 x 33.2 cm (9 3/4 x 13 1/16 in.). Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1980.40
Based on The Divine Comedy, Dante's epic poem of the 1300s, this painting depicts Dante and the ancient Roman poet Virgil encountering the souls of Paolo and Francesca on a visit to Hell. Although in love with Paolo, Francesca was forced to marry his deformed brother for political reasons. When the jilted husband discovered the lovers embracing, he murdered them, apparently consigning them to Hell due to their adulterous affair.
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