Rarely seen drawings of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ can now be viewed online

The Uffizi Galleries in Florence have released the works to mark 700th anniversary of poet's death

It's been 700 years since his death, but Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri is still being remembered. In Italy, the significant anniversary of his passing will be marked with numerous events and shows throughout the year, in 70 towns across the country.

One of these is a virtual exhibition – titled To Behold the Stars Again – by the Uffizi Galleries in Florence that presents 88 rarely displayed drawings of Dante's Divine Comedy. The drawings were created by 16th-century Renaissance artist and architect Federico Zuccari between 1586 and 1588.

The pencil-and-ink sketches have been in the Uffizi collection since 1738, and have been shown to the public only twice before – in Florence in 1865, the year of Dante's 600th birthday, and in a 1993 Abruzzo exhibition.

The drawings depict scenes from Dante's epic poem, Divine Comedy, which was published in 1320. They follow the poem's three parts as the focal character of the pilgrim journeys through inferno, purgatory and paradise.

Dante remains a celebrated figure in literary and art history. Born in Florence in 1265, he wrote poetry using the Florentine vernacular and other regional dialects, helping standardise the Italian language. His writings in the Divine Comedy informed the work of many artists, including English painter William Blake, who created his own illustrations based on the poem in the 1800s. Dante died in Ravenna in 1321 when he was 56 years old.

As part of the initiatives around the anniversary of his death, the Uffizi Galleries are also staging a special exhibition, Dante. The vision of art, at the San Domenico Museums complex in the town of Forli. Held from March to July, it will include works by Michelangelo, Pontormo and Andrea del Castagno, who painted a portrait of Dante.

Currently, Zuccari's 88 drawings are available to view on the Uffizi website, with English versions of the descriptive texts expected to be shared soon. The virtual exhibition is free to view.

To Behold the Stars Again can be viewed on the Uffizi Galleries website