Dante and the light of the Divine Comedy in Santa Maria del Fiore

Until December 31, 2021, an installation in the Cathedral of Florence will enable a close reading of the famous portrait of Dante for the first time

Domenico di Michelino, Dante
Domenico di Michelino, Dante

A close encounter with the “Portrait of Dante Alighieri, the city of Florence and the allegory of the Divine Comedy” painted by Domenico di Michelino in 1465 for the Cathedral of Florence will be possible until December 31, thanks to “Dante and the light of the Comedy in Santa Maria del Fiore“, curated by Antonio Natali. The initiative is part of the events program dedicated to celebrating the 700th anniversary of the death of the Supreme Poet, which for the first time sees the collaboration of three prestigious Florentine institutions: Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Opera di Santa Croce and the Certosa di Firenze (Charterhouse of Florence) – Community of San Leolino.

The portrait of Dante Alighieri by Domenico Michelino is certainly one of the most famous representations of the poet. On the occasion of this special year, loan requests were received from many exhibitions, but Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore decided to let the painting be admired in the Cathedral of Florence.

The history of the famous portrait

The portrait was commissioned by Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore to celebrate the two hundredth year anniversary of Dante’s birth in 1465, the “painted monument” was created with the aim of enhancing the memory of the poet in Florence’s main church. The allegorical portrait depicts Dante with a laurel wreath around his head, holding the Divine Comedy in his left hand with the opening lines visible as he points to the Gates of Hell with his right hand. Behind him is Purgatory and Paradise.

Also visible is fifteenth-century Florence with the Cathedral and Brunelleschi’s Dome, already crowned by the bronze ball covered with gold and by the cross, which at the time of the painting had not yet been executed but which the artist had seen in the model designed by Brunelleschi in 1419. You can also see the walls of the second circle, begun in 1172, the Bargello towers, the church of the Badia fiorentina, Palazzo Vecchio and Giotto’s bell tower.

Dante celebrations by Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore, Opera di Santa Croce and the Community of San Leolin

“Dante e la luce della Commedia in Santa Maria del Fiore” is the third initiative – in chronological order – of the Dante Celebrations program by Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Opera di Santa Croce and the Community of San Leolino.

Following the exhibition titled “… con altra voce ritornerò poeta: Bronzino’s Portrait of Dante at the Charterhouse of Florence” and Massimo Cacciari’s lecture on Dante, between reason, politics and prophecy held in 2020, the program features the following events over the coming months: All’etterno dal tempo (Paradiso, XXXI 38): Dante’s theology, lecture by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Basilica of Santa Croce, May 28, 2021; Lecturae Dantis show by Franco Ricordi, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, June 10, 17, 24 2021; Poets read the Poet Santa Croce, Duomo, Certosa, June 2021 – March 2022; Divine Comedy in Santa Croce, site specific show by the Lombardi-Tiezzi Company at the Santa Croce complex, July 5 – 11 2021; and 2021 Giornata della fraternità – Dante and Francesco meeting, Cenacolo di Santa Croce, October 2, 2021.


For information on how to visit and to purchase tickets, see the website: www.duomo.firenze.it