Dante and Virgil

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875)


260.4 x 170.5 cm (102 1/2 x 67 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251)





Corot took his subject from the first canto of Dante’s Inferno, when the Italian poet encounters three savage beasts deep in a forest. Dante then meets the ancient poet Virgil, who offers to be his guide through Purgatory and Hell. Corot presented this painting at the Salon of 1859. Rediscovering it in his studio many years later, he wrote to a friend, “Why, it’s superb; I can hardly imagine that I myself did that!” He unsuccessfully offered to sell it to the French state in 1874. The Boston collector Quincy Adams Shaw purchased it in 1875, after Corot’s death, and donated it to the Museum of Fine Arts.


Lower right: C. COROT


May 26-28, 1875, posthumous Corot sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 149, to Alexis-Eugène Détrimont (b. 1825), Paris, for 15,000 fr., for Quincy Adams Shaw (b. 1825 - d. 1908), Boston; 1875, gift of Quincy Adams Shaw to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 10, 1875)

Credit Line

Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw