Ary Scheffer (1795 - 1858)
- Probably Félicie de Fauveau (1801 - 1886), (frame)
- Francesca da Rimini
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 166.5 x 234 cm
Object size: 253 x 322 x 23.5 cm
- Signature: 'Ary Scheffer. / 1835'
- West Gallery III
- Scheffer enjoyed enormous success with sentimental and religious scenes, many of which became the subject of popular engravings. 'Francesca da Rimini' was one of his most admired works – this is the first version, but he produced many others. George Eliot said of a version that was exhibited in England in 1854 that she 'could look at it for hours'. A subject from Dante’s 'Inferno', the painting shows Dante and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, during their passage through Hell. They look on the tragic figures of Paolo and Francesca, condemned with the souls of the lustful to the stormy darkness of Hell’s second circle. Francesca had been forced to marry the hideous Gianciotto da Rimini, but had fallen in love with his handsome younger brother, Paolo. In 1285 they were murdered by Gianciotto. He had seen Paolo kiss Francesca while they were reading together an account of the love of Sir Lancelot for Queen Guinevere. The painting has a remarkable frame which complements its subject, probably designed by Félicie de Fauveau. It was added to it when it was owned (1853-70) by Anatole Demidoff, Prince of San Donato. Demidoff had hung the picture in the Malachite Saloon at San Donato, near Florence, with six other modern French paintings, including Delaroche's 'Execution of Lady Jane Grey' (London, National Gallery).