“Recognition of the poem’s importance began very early. The first man to write a commentary on The Divine Comedy was Dante’s eldest son, Jacopo. A full exegesis of the work came several decades later. There are 800 early manuscripts of the poem in existence
“It is in some of these that we begin to see the different ways in which artists responded to this often dense and difficult text, with its multiple layers of meaning. First we spot small illustrations of the poem’s principal characters at the beginning of each hand-scribed canto. A little later, scenes from the poem begin to appear in churches, on frescoes by Luca Signorelli in Orvieto Cathedral (c. 1500), for example.
“The most important visual interpreters of the poem were three: Sandro Botticelli, who lived in the 16th century, William Blake, and Gustave Doré, both of whom lived in the 19th: a Florentine (like Dante himself), an Englishman, and a Frenchman.” [. . .] –Michael Glover, Hyperallergic, February 13, 2021.