Figures from History and Literature (1)/

Figures from History and Literature (1) by Nathaniel Hitch. Location: South wall of the Great Hall, Two Temple Place, Victoria Embankment, London EC3. Architect: John Loughborough Pearson. [Click on photograph to enlarge it — Detail]

The figures depicted: Left to right: (a) Francesca da Rimini — the Francesca of Dante's Paolo and Francesca, an historical figure murdered (c. 1288) by her husband, Giovanni Malatesta, when he discovered that she and his brother were lovers. In The Inferno, Dante, who treats them sympathetically, presents them blown about on the winds of their passion, the lightest of all punishments in hell, which they receive only because they die in the midst of committing a sin. (b) Martin Luther (1483-1546), the leader of the German Reformation. (c) Bianca Capello (1548-87), who eloped with Buonaventuri in 1563 and married Francesco, Grand Duke of Tuscany, fifteen years later. (d) Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the great poet who wrote in Italian rather than Latin, thereby doing much to create Italian literature. (e) Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Like Francesca, who appears at the opposite end of this panel, she embodies tragic love for many Victorian artists and poets, and they flank the apparently very untragic Bianca, who is surrounded by two great historical figures both of whom wrote their most famous and influential works in the vernacular rather than in Latin.

Photograph, text, and formatting by George P. Landow. You may not use this image without written permission from Two Temple Place, which holds copyright and which provided much of the information that appears above.

Last modified 18 November 2011