Oriel Painting to Feature in Ashmolean's Dante Exhibition

  • Painted portrait depicting Six Tuscan Poets, including Dante and Petrarch
    Portrait of six Tuscan poets, by Giorgio Vasari
24 August, 2021

Usually found hanging above the fireplace in the Large Senior Common Room (SCR), Portrait of six Tuscan poets, by Italian painter and scholar Giorgio Vasari, has taken a trip across Oxford to feature as part of the Ashmolean's upcoming exhibition: Dante and the Invention of Celebrity.

The free exhibition runs from 17th September 2021 until 9th January 2022 and will explore the great poet and philosopher's influence on art and culture over the centuries. The exhibition will coincide with a display at the Bodleian Library of illuminated manuscripts and printed editions of the Divine Comedy.

Portrait of six Tuscan poets, which was produced in 1544, portrays six prominent Tuscan poets. The central figure of the portrait, dressed in a pink robe and seated in a Savonarola chair, is Dante Alighieri (c.1265-1321). To his right is Francesco Petrarcha (or Petrarch as he is known in English), who holds a copy of his own Scattered Rhymes. Behind Dante are Guido Cavalcanti and Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the Decameron. In the background, behind Petrarch, are Cino di Pistoia and Guittone d’Arezzo, who were also both poets of the dolce stil novo, the new vernacular poetry.

The artist, Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574), was an Italian painter, architect, engineer, writer, and historian, best known for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. He was a contemporary and friend of Michelangelo and designed the Tomb of Michelangelo in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, which was completed in 1578. Throughout his life he was consistently employed by members of the Medici family in Florence and Rome.

We are delighted that this portrait will be on display for everyone to see as part of this celebration of Dante's life.