Rachel Owen

Rachel Owen
Published here for the first time, these illustrations of Dante's Inferno offer a radical new approach to the poem.

Before her death in 2016, the artist Rachel Owen began an ambitious project: illustrating The Divine Comedy. This volume includes the completed illustrations for Dante's Inferno, which cast the viewer as a first-person pilgrim through the underworld. These illustrations combine the artist's deep cultural and historical understanding of the text and its artistic legacy with her unique talent for collage and printmaking. With their unique perspective and visual language, Owen's illustrations prompt us to rethink Dante's poem.

Owen's work, held in the Bodleian Library and published here for the first time, illustrates the complete cycle of thirty-four cantos of the Inferno, with one image per canto. In essays contextualizing Owen's work, Fiona Whitehouse provides details of the techniques employed by the artist, Peter Hainsworth situates Owen's work in the field of modern Dante illustration, and David Bowe offers a commentary on the illustrations as gateways to Dante's poem. Jamie McKendrick and Bernard O'Donoghue's translations of episodes from the Inferno provide complementary artistic interpretations of Dante's poem, while reflections from colleagues and friends commemorate Owen's life and work as an artist, scholar, and teacher.

Publication Date: 
October 17, 2021