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Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)  The Death of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta  Oil on canvas, 1870  Musée dOrsay, Paris, France
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Title: The Death of Francesca
Description:
Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)
The Death of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta
Oil on canvas, 1870
Musée dOrsay, Paris, France

Francesca da Rimini or Francesca da Polenta (1255 1285) was the daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna. She was a historical contemporary of Dante Alighieri, who portrayed her as a character in the Divine Comedy.

Arranged marriage

Guido I da Polenta had been at war with the Malatesta family. When a peace was negotiated, Guido wanted to solidify it by marrying his daughter Francesca to the Malatestan heir, Giovanni Malatesta (Gianciotto), son of Malatesta da Verucchio, lord of Rimini. Giovanni was brave but deformed. Guido knew Francesca would refuse Giovanni, so the wedding was performed by proxy through Giovanni's handsome brother, Paolo.

Francesca fell in love with Paolo and was unaware of the deception until the morning after the wedding day.

According to Dante, Francesca and Paolo were seduced by reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and became lovers. Subsequently they were surprised and murdered by Giovanni before they were able to repent. However, it is likely that the adultery was much more calculated. Both Francesca and the also-married Paolo had their own children. Dante used the romance of Lancelot in order to fit within the scheme of lyric love poetry, which Francesca emulates in her lines of Inferno's Canto V.

The name "Francesca" became popular among aristocrats.

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Goback 18 / 25 Forward
Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)  Portrait of Countess E. A. Vorontsova-Dashkova  Oil on canvas, 1873  Private collectionAlexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)  The Death of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta  Oil on canvas, 1870  Musée dOrsay, Paris, FranceAlexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)  Cincinnatus Receiving Deputies of the Senate  Oil on canvas  Private collection
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