Journey through the Dante Urbinate: Purgatory, Canto I

We left our two poets as they were exiting the Inferno, so now their journey continues toward the discovery of Purgatory. A large rectangular vignette with a gold leaf frame occupies the center of this beautiful page. More than just the architectural form of a small shrine, this is where the episode of Dante and Virgil’s encounter with Cato at the entry to Purgatory is portrayed.  

Virgil is seen wearing his yellow cloak with the rose-colored mantle and the red hood lined with ermine fur, placing his right hand on Dante’s shoulders. Dante, wearing his blue clothes and cap, bows toward Cato, who is shown wearing a red suit with an iridescent violet jacket, and with a long beard and long white hair.  

A green landscape fills the space to the horizon, lit by the glow of the planet Venus. The sky is a deep blue and in the upper left area, the four stars appear, seen only by Adam and Eve, as is told in verses 13 through 27 of the First Canto. 

Source: Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, Una nuova lettura della Commedia, La Divina Commedia di Federico da Montefeltro. Il Dante Urbinate. Commentario.

Illumination from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, Ms. Urb. lat. 365, f. 97r, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

Guglielmo Giraldi and workshop.   

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