An important group of drawings consists of illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy (inv. n. A008439S - A008124S), for which Sughi had to relate his work to an enormous patrimony of images. Among these, however, those that probably interested him most are the illustrations by Gustave Doré, because of their analytical complexity, but even more, perhaps, because they managed to spread the compositions out, to concentrate on the main characters and construct an emptiness around them, a space for landscape. But if this system of references to other artists’ work could be used to represent hell, together with a renewed “dialogue” with Daumier’s lithographs and with paintings by Gericault, Sughi needed other models to represent Heaven and Dante’s face. Some drawings of Dante’s face conjure up other atmospheres, from David to Dante Gabriele Rossetti (inv. nn. A008439S, A008441S), while, as a whole, the drawings echo Rodin, but also the graphic realism of the 1950s, subtle hints of the 16 th century Mannerists and clear references to Goya’s “black” paintings from the Quinta del Sordo and therefore to the artist’s late period, as in the case of Farinata degli Uberti (inv. nn. A008472S, A008471S).
Naturally, the cultural background of an artist is part of his expression, which is a historical “language”, so we must not misinterpret what has been written about it. Sughi has historical awareness of artists from the past, and uses some historical forms and expressions to produce a new, different and highly effective synthesis, which clearly emerges in every preparatory sketch, as well as in the final works.
- From the article by Gloria Bianchino: The structure of realism(Ed. Skira collana CSAC, Jan.. 2006)