September 2021 – Italy – 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri

Dante Hell

Divine Comedy – The Hell

This month’s stamp is one of three issued by Italy to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. After other countries have already done so (e.g. Liechtenstein), now also the home country of the great Italian poet. What fascinated me about this and the other two stamps is that this time the Italian Post deviates from the traditional representation chosen in the past to commemorate the author of the Divine Comedy. No works of art of the time were used, but contemporary works are dedicated to three stages of the Divine Comedy: Hell – Purgatory – and Paradise. 

Dante Purgatory

Divine Comedy – The Purgatory

Hell is a painting by Corrado Veneziano, a teacher, and expert in visual arts as well as linguistic techniques. It has, for me, the clearest reference to Dante’s time, being done in a style reminiscent of the work of Dante’s contemporary Buffalmacco. His frescoes, recently restored in a cemetery in Pisa, served as inspiration for this contemporary work. 

The depiction of Purgatory is interesting. Here Francesco Di Pietro, an artist of the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato S.p.A., placed a “modern Dante” (easily recognizable by the curved nose) on the platform of an underground station. Behind him are people looking into screens, illuminated by them and hypnotized, if not depersonalized – a modern purgatory.

Dante Paradise

Divine Comedy – The Paradise – the handing over of the stab

Paradise is represented by a young man, reminiscent of a parkour runner in our cities. The “boy” with the laurel-wreathed head (again reminiscent of Dante) was drawn by the rector of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Paolo Bocci. He holds a pen in his hand and is surrounded by letters and written notes and letters. The work is entitled “The passing of the baton”. Unfortunately, I myself know too little of the Divine Comedy to be able to offer an interpretation here. But perhaps someone can help me further…..

Dante CancelThe first day cancel was struck in Ravenna and shows motifs from all three stamps. All three stamps are “B” stamps, sold at a price of €1.10, and can be used to send a postcard or ordinary letter within Italy. They are self-adhesive and are issued in an edition of three hundred thousand per stamp.