During the nineteenth century the name Beatrice evoked associations with two different
women, Beatrice Cenci, and Beatrice from the Divine Comedy. Romantic artists
presented Beatrice Cenci as a victim of her family's intrigues during the Renaissance,
a beautiful woman driven to murder and then executed for her crime. Dante's Beatrice
was his guide through heaven in Part III of the Divine Comedy. She was
seen as an image of love and purity, who served as a source of Dante's spiritual
inspiration. Hawthorne draws on associations with both of these figures in his
treatment of Beatrice Rappaccini. He again refers to Beatrice Cenci in his novel
The Marble Faun. Some of the images below present artistsí interpretations
of Beatrice Cenci and Beatrice from the Divine Comedy. Others present images
of Italy similar to those that Hawthorne might have seen when he wrote "Rappaccini's
Beata Beatrix by D.G. Rossetti This Pre-Raphaelite painting by D.G. Rossetti reveals the continuing interest in Dante's Divine Comedy and the figure of Beatrice. (courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London)
The Meeting of Dante with Beatrice by Henry Holiday This painting by Henry Holiday presents the first meeting of Dante and Beatrice. Its composition attempts to convey the admiration Dante felt for Beatrice.
"Tombeau de Cecile" An example of an etching of a European scene that was available in New England in the early 19th century. This hangs on the second floor of the Gardner-Pingree House in Salem, MA. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Beatrice Cenci A figure of Beatrice Cenci sculpted by Harriet Hosmer. This work and others reflect the interest in Beatrice Cenci in the 19th century.
Italian Landscape A nineteenth-century painting of an Italian landcape by Washington Allston, whose work was exhibited in Boston. Hawthorne would have seen landscapes such as this that influenced his descriptions of Italy.
Venetian Street A nineteenth-century painting of an Italian street by John Singer Sargent. This work captures the image of houses whose gardens are concealed behind the walls that front the street.
Rappaccini's Daughter Illustration from Hawthorne's Works, Globe Edition, Houghton, Mifflin, and Co.,1880. (courtesy of Terri Whitney)