Rosa Sempiterna á la Dante Alighieri

Rosa Sempiterna is based on the description of paradise in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, where the heavenly armies appear as a white rose.

Rosa Sempiterna by Dante Alighieri, 2023, ink on paper, 110 x 75 cm.

After Dante finally reached the Tenth Heaven, Beatrice wanted to show him what the heavenly armies looked like. Dante was blinded for a moment, but regained his sight and saw the heavenly armies, angels and blessed souls in the form of a white rose. He describes the vision as an eternal rose (Rosa sempiterna) and also as a heavenly rose (Rosa celeste).

In the Old Testament, angels are depicted as men or male-figured beings, in contrast to Western art, where they are mostly depicted as female figures. In the oldest paintings, the angels look like young men. Wings were added to them under the influence of ancient art to make it easier to distinguish them from humans. The models of the angels in the drawing were Zephyrus and Hyacinthus from the Ancient Greek vase painting.