The exhibition, curated by the College of Doctors of the Ambrosiana, presents a precious selection of Divine Comedies of the Library collections that covers a chronological period from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.
The exhibition itinerary ideally opens with the famous illuminated manuscript of the Divine Comedy – dating back to the end of the 14th century, known as Chiose Ambrosiane – stolen for its value by Napoleon in 1796 and then returned to Milan after the Congress of Vienna. At its side is on display the Commentary on the Comedy, from the fifteenth century, written by Pietro Alighieri, son of Dante, born from the marriage with Gemma Donati. In this Comment, the author aims at harmonizing Dante’s work with the masterpieces of classical literature and with the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the Scholastics.
Among the incunabula stands the precious edition of the Poem, made in Venice in 1491, with Comment by Cristoforo Landino, inside which there are 100 wood engravings attributed to Mantegna. Landino’s comment, which was widely distributed, had an exegetical function of the aimed especially at the glorification of the city of Florence.
In the section of the sixteenth century one can admire the famous print by Aldo Manuzio of 1502, edited by Bembo, bearing one of the first examples of italics, by Francesco Griffo from Bologna.
Among the eighteenth-century editions we note that of Antonio Zatta, of 1757-1758, dedicated to Elisabetta Petrowna empress of Russia and richly illustrated by excellent engravings, while for the nineteenth century, the very rare one of 1809, for the types of Luigi Mussi, with Bodonian type characters.
The exhibition ends with the sumptuous print of the Poem – Florence, all’Insegna dell’Ancora, 1817-1819 – dedicated to Antonio Canova, bearing 125 large woodcuts.
For the occasion – in front of the suggestive ‘Dante stained glass window’ made by Giuseppe Bertini in 1851 for the Universal Exhibition in London – a space will be set up dedicated to the vision of the tables of the Comedy prepared, over a period of twenty years (1919-1939), by Amos Nattini at the suggestion and invitation of Gabriele D’Annunzio.