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Dante and Virgil in Hell

The Bark of Dante

1822: Musée du Louvre, Paris

Alternatively titled The Bark of Dante, this painting was Delacroix's first Paris Salon triumph. Inspired by Dante's Inferno, the red-robed figure is the Latin poet Virgil, who guides Dante through Hell as the writhing, demonic souls of immoral Florentines struggle to get into the boat.

While the muscular figures owe much to the influence of Michaelangelo, detailed looks at the water droplets on the torso of the woman clearly show the influence of Rubens. Delacroix was awed by the Flemish master's ability to render a sheen wetness by using pure splashes of complimentary colour.

 
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