One very interesting aspect of this particular drawing is the contrast between the underdrawing and the ink version which completed the work. Faint elements of the underdrawing can be seen right across the drawing, clearly indicating that Botticelli made significant changes to the composition of this artwork as it developed.
This well known sketch entitled Paradiso VI illustrates a conversation between Roman emperor Justinian and Dante. The emperor appears from the flames in the background to tell Dante about the history of the Roman Empire and tells him of the souls of the just in Mercury.
This work is set in the secondary planetary sphere, the Heaven of Mercury. The poses of the two individuals indicates that this conversation was significant and extended, with Justinian describing his achievements in reforming the rule of law and detailing other developments brought about by the Romans.
The differences in composition between the under drawing and the final sketch can be termed as pentimento, a type of repentance by artist Botticelli. It is the two key individuals in the centre of the piece who received the most changes, with Dante originally intended to be higher up.
The patterned background is a technique seen again in Paradiso XXVI, with small flames used repeatedly in swirling curves. This detailed artwork is a pen and brown ink sketch over metalpoint on vellum and measures 32.5cm x 47.6cm which is the standard size of his work in this series in order to suitably fit the Dante's Divine Comedy manuscript.