A book of notes on the works of Dante Alighieri by an un-named student, highlighted by four delightful diagrams illustrating the Divine Comedy.
The notebook begin with a page on Dante’s Vita Nuova, a work of courtly love poetry, followed by two pages on Il Convito (aka, Il Convivio). This is followed by a four-page table of “the cantos of the Inferno in their relation to sin, its punishment and its effect,” followed by a similar one for the “Purgatorio.” The text concludes with a five-page “Summary of Purgatorio and Paradise.”
The highlights, however, are the four tipped-in illustrations at the back depicting the Inferno (“Section of the Hell”), Purgatory, Paradise (“The Rose of the Blessed”), and Dante’s cosmogony (“The Universe”) the latter three in ink and watercolor. I suspect all are derivative of early work, sometimes much earlier: The “Section of the Hell,” for example, is closely resembles a drawing by Sandro Botticelli for an illustrated manuscript of The Divine Comedy.
The overall format and level of sophistication suggest that these are the work of a college student attending a survey course on Dante. Indeed, a couple of pages bear dates in the upper-right corner (month and day only), supporting the hypothesis that these are lecture notes.
The notebook is unsigned and undated, but the inside of the front board bears a small label of “Gaylord Bros. / Makers / Syracuse, N. Y. / Pat. Jan 21, 1908”, suggesting it was used by an American student in the first or second decade of the 20th century.