Abstract: This paper addresses visual constructions of Dante Alighieri by reconsidering key stages in the process of turning Dante into a universal cultural icon deeply engrained in Europe‘s cultural memory. During Dante’s transformation into a carrier of memory in Italy, the interpretations of his work and the Dantean image were constantly subject to significant changes, with different aspects of his vast political and literary oeuvre or one of his presumably characteristic traits ceding or moving to the foreground according to an epoch’s taste and preferences.
Interestingly, this transformation went hand in hand with the aesthetic need to create a tangible image of Dante, gradually disconnected from his original texts. Thus more than once the image of Dante has formed a foil upon which not only Italy, but also England and Germany could project various anxieties, hopes and revelations in the 19th century.
Key words: Dante Alighieri, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Visual iconography, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Johann Jakob Bodmer, Dante criticism, 19th century, Cappella de‘ Notai