The story of Dante and Beatrice has been passed down since the 13th century as one of history's great love stories. Dante met Beatrice when he was nine years old and fell deeply for her right from the start. It wasn’t until nine years later when she finally spoke to him, a casual greeting in the streets of Florence. It was enough to inspire him to write an epic love poem and that inspiration carried him on to be one of the greatest known writers in history. Social class structure of the day did not allow him to court her. Instead, he wrote her into his famous Divine Comedy as a heavenly body guiding him with infinite wisdom through Paradiso. In reality he barely knew her and she died at the age of only 23 but throughout his life professed that she was his one true love.

I challenge this romantic notion of love. I see this Beatrice we know as an invention of Dante's imagination. Here Dante, near death, is remembering the young beautiful Beatrice as he conjured her, never even having had an intimate conversation or ever having touched her. Did he regret having constrained himself by other peoples' standards? Or did it bring him peace to keep her safely, purely, in his head? Did she know? Did she love him back? As he lay dying he imagines she is on the other side waiting to greet him. His isolated hand reaches out longingly but touches her only on the very pages that he wrote.

10" x 13"
Cast Bronze Limited Edition of 20


© Heidi Wastweet 2017