Domenico di Michelino is one of the most renowned canvas painters born and raised in Florence, Italy. He worked as a painter at the Florentine School, where he was a great enthusiast of the Fra Angelico painting style. Domenico di Michelino is majorly known for incorporating some of the significant scenes in the Bible in most of his works. He is considered a staunch Christian who uses his art pieces to educate people on Christianity. This paper strives to highlight how Dante’s vision of the Christian afterlife has been portrayed in the canvas painting and the poem.
The paintings outline the painter’s journey through different circumstances in an individual’s life. The piece describes the journey and experiences through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, which are used to portray some of the different life circumstances that an individual may be exposed to. Dante’s works and paintings embraced minimal Latin language and adopted an all-inclusive approach. He created a detailed picture that made it easier for the target audience to understand the message in the painting. This was because he was aware of the different dialects in Italy other than the Latina.
In the painting, Domenico di Michelino has portrayed the three important aspects of the Christian afterlife. On the left side of the painting, the artist has portrayed a parade of sinners being directed into hell. Behind Dante, the painter has also incorporated the seven terraces of Purgatory with a male and a female representing Adam and Eve, who majorly symbolize the Earthly Paradise. On the top part of the painting are the sun and the moon, which he has used to symbolize Paradise in heaven. The mural’s three major components outline the Christian afterlife’s three worlds.
The artwork portrays paraded individuals pursuing a burner or fire burning with great intensity. The individuals marching towards the fire are sinners who will be burned in an everlasting fire to punish them for the sins that they have committed. The Bible states that sinners will be subjected to everlasting fire in hell to pay for their sins. In the poem, Dante portrays sinners as individuals who are always pursued by a wasp that constantly stings them to inflict pain for the rest of their life. The wasp has been used to represent hell, and the constant sting from the wasps represents the everlasting fire.
Domenico di Michelino has also portrayed the different forms of Satan. In the poem, Dante outlines how Satan has three faces, with one face looking in front. Dante also uses the poem to depict Satan as an individual frozen in ice at the earth’s centre. The central positioning portrays how Satan has a significant influence on people on earth; however, frozen, it is the behaviour of sinners to move towards Satan. In the portrait, Satan has been positioned and frozen in the underworld because he is considered to be opposing God. Freezing Satan in both the poem and the piece depicts how sinners are individuals who suffer and do not have a place in the heavenly Paradise.
At the Purgatory entrance is an angel who guards and leads every individual getting in after drawing the letter “P” on their forehead using their sword. The letter is marked seven times to symbolize the seven main sinful behaviours that pull-off men from God. The seven levels of Purgatory depicted by the artists in the painting have been utilized to portray the seven sinful behaviours that affect man’s relationship with God. Sinners must go through all the seven levels to get cleansed and have a good relationship with God. This has been portrayed in the painting where at the end of the seventh level in the Purgatory is the Garden of Eden which symbolizes life in Paradise.