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The Harlot and the giant   1824-27
pen, ink and watercolour over pencil and black chalk (NGV 34)
Felton Bequest, 1920
National Gallery of Victoria

Purgatorio XXXII, 85-7 and 142-53. Dante has entered the Terrestrial Paradise or Garden of Eden and Beatrice has replaced Virgil as his guide. They reach the mystic tree of the knowledge of good and evil, where Dante falls asleep. When he awakes he finds Beatrice seated at the foot of a tree. The chariot of the divine pageant on which Beatrice appeared to him has been transformed into a seven-headed beast, probably denoting the seven capital sins. It is surmounted by the Harlot characterizing the papacy during the 'Babylonian Captivity' at Avignon; the giant represents Phillip the Fair of France, under whose power the papacy had fallen. The figures of Faith, Hope and Charity stand, appalled, on the right.

(c)1999 National Gallery of Victoria