Dante (above depicted) embodies a flamboyant character whose obsession with immortality paradoxically results in a suicide much as tragic as it is immoral and histrionic for those he leaves behind to bear the burden of continuously remembering him.
The sketch, vaguely reminiscent of J.J. Sargent’s (my modesty knows no limits), captures this exceedingly egoistic, self-assertive carnivorous man in a singular moment of fragility before he’s claimed by a most peaceful death which doesn’t, however, erase elusiveness off his face. Like Bernini’s St. Theresa, I fancy my Dante conveys a facial expression that equally mixes ecstasy with anguish, voluptuousness with sheer agony and just the dose of ambiguity to play the binder. All transpiring through an allegedly beauteous body meant to have the viewer respond to its attractiveness so as to reveal the intriguing effect of an experience no being escapes.
Amusingly, though, the actual thoughts that passed Dante’s brain seconds prior to his demise strive to deliver a whole other idea than his equivocal mien might bring to mind…
If interested to better understand what’s this about you can check “Vicious“, a smart & titillating novella of heartbreaking illusions and self-induced decay Dante does his best to monopolize.