This memorable composition was a single chapter in his large series of illustrations to accompany Dante's Divine Comedy. This classic Italian text had actually already inspired many artists across Europe to produce visual versions of the inspiring passages. A version by Sandro Botticelli is perhaps the most revered of all, but certainly the alternative version by Blake runs it close. For many centuries it had been religious scripture which dominated artistic content but now artists were starting to look elsewhere, with more modern poetry starting to appear more frequently. There would also be an interest in classical mythology as well in the oeuvre of others.
The artwork itself captures several figures within a dramatic backdrop. The peaks of mountains drift off into the distance whilst in the foreground we find several strange but natural formations which resemble stone after years of weathering or maybe even some old dinosaur bones. We can immediately pinpoint watercolour and pen as being behind this creation, even just from digital imagery. The two main figures represent Dante and Virgil and the precise setting is the circle of hell, a topic which inspired many artworks from Blake which shared this dark atmosphere as entirely intended. He would alternate between the moods of his work, sometimes releasing more upbeat depictions at others times in his career.
William Blake is a truly popular Brit from the past, having achieved success in both poetry and art. Even within art itself he would experiment with different mediums, though his preferred approach would be a combination of pen for form, with watercolour added for tone. He was able to make use of the printing techniques used at the time to disperse copies of his work and this enabled the artist to spread knowledge of his work further and wider. This popularity is reflected in how much of his work now resides within British art galleries, with the Tate being particularly prominent in that regard. Alongside the likes of The Pit of Disease, The Falsifiers, you will also be able to see Newton as well, which is one of the artist's most famous contributions.