A little gem of the Twentieth Century miniature art is nested in Naples: the Divine Comedy by Antonio Maria Esposito. In silence and solitude, this artist has created, as a spiritual exercise of patience and prayer, forty-two sculptured scenes from Dante’s masterpiece set in little nutshells. The bodies of his characters are made of tiny drops of oil painting, the heads are grains of pear pulp, and yet they inhabit “enormous” landscapes, set with perfect perspective, representing the entire afterlife cosmos.
A tender, infinitesimal Dante guides us through the Dark Forest, the Gates of Hell, the snakes and the devils of the Malebolge, and then up to the mountain of Purgatory until we reach the unique work about Heaven: a vortex of angels in chants and dance
The Divine Comedy has inspired many well-known artists, from Botticelli to Dalì, from Michelangelo to Blake, up to the renowned illustrations by Doré and to Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Antonio Maria Esposito was a very conscious artist, playing with these important illustrators of Dante’s masterpiece, sometimes quoting them, sometimes inventing new ways to represent the torments of hell or the leisures of salvation. Furthermore, this might be the only complete artworks about the Divine Comedy of sculptures in miniature. The art of “illumination” has been very much practised to decorate the Divine Comedy, from the 14th to the 16th Century, as we can see in the vast Illuminated Dante project promoted by University of Naples “Federico II”. However, we are obviously talking of painted miniature. Here the figures and landscapes are three-dimensional, and we get astonished by the contrast between their small, unreal, dimentions, and the realism given by their shadows and perspective.
Each visitor is given a magnifying lens to accomplish the journey, but nobody will be left alone with this enormous masterpiece!To those who wish, the guides of Museodivino will tell the whole story from the beginning, explaining the basics of the Divine Comedy, pointing out the novelties of Dante’s writing and the meanings of his masterpiece. They will explain all that is necessary to understand what is represented in these miniatures, making the visit a deep journey through the Divine Comedy’s theological and social meaning, and through its amazing symbolic poetry
For those who know something, for those who know a lot, for those who know nothing of the Divine Comedy: everybody is getting enchanted by this vast cosmos contained in small walnuts.
Art and literature experts meet a very conscious artist, who quotes Doré and Flaxman and furthermore invents new representations of Dante’s afterlife.
Those who have never opened the Divine Comedy, might find here the courage and the desire to approach Dante’s masterpiece: Not to do it means to deprive ourselves of the greatest gift literature has to offer, as fairly says Borges!
And, strange as it seems, this is a perfect visual experience for kids: we’ll tell them the story as a weird, dark-and-bright fairytale, and we’ll guide them to face horrible monsters … ‘cause it will be sufficient to take away the magnifying lens to see that they are actually very small!
Children walk through a fairytail, adults discover or re-discover Dante’s universe, artists fall in love with the Collection. Because, above all, this Divine Comedy is an extraordinary exemple of spiritual art: where the islamic calligraphy meets the Tibetan maṇḍala and the christian orthodox icons, at the crossing point between centuries and cultures.
In 2021 will occur the seventh centenary of the death of Dante: worldwide celebrations will take place all over the world. “700 years in a walnut” is a project by Museodivino that will celebrate Dante2021 through this stupefying collection of miniatures. A series of conferences, theatre performances, workshops and meeting regarding the Divine Comedy and its relation with modern times will take place in the museum to enrich the experience of the vision for all our visitors through the whole 2021.
If you represent a national or international cultural institution, and you are interested in
– workshop or seminars,
– school activities,
– theatre performances,
please write at email@example.com
Everyday we offer guided tours to both single visitors and groups with a narrative approach to the Divine Comedy. The tour is always available in Italian, English and French; in German and Russian by writing two days before. Booking is not compulsory, but it is always welcome to avoid queues and to get the best of the experience in total security.
Free entry with free donation
from 10 am to midnight
Photo credits © GiorgioCossu / Museodivino.
Associazione Culturale “Progetto Sophia. Donne verso la Bellezza” sede operativa Via San Giovanni Maggiore Pignatelli 1b. P.Iva: 95237130638