Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867): Angelica saved

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867): Angelica saved

4/2/2021, 6:36:20 PM
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867): Angelica saved by Ruggiero, between 1819-39, Oil on canvas, 47.6 x 39.4 cm, National Gallery, London The scene shown here is taken from the sixteenth-century epic poem Orlando Furioso, by Ludovico Ariosto. Published in full in 1532, the poem is an epic tale of chivalric romance set against the struggle between Charlemagne’s Christian warriors and the Saracen army invading Europe. Its central story tells of the unrequited love of a Christian knight, Orlando, for a pagan princess, Angelica. Ingreshas depicted an episode from Canto X when a heroic knight, Ruggiero (translated as Roger or Rogero in English), discovers Angelica, who has been abducted by barbarians. Stripped and chained to a rock on the Isle of Tears, she has been left as a sacrifice to a sea monster. Riding a hippogriff – a legendary half-horse, half-griffin beast that can both gallop and fly – Ruggiero saves Angelica by plunging his lance into the monster’s open jaws. Ingres had previously painted this scene in a larger painting that he submitted to the Paris Salonof 1819. In this later version, he recreates the fantasy landscape of jagged rocks and foaming sea illuminated by moonlight and by a small beacon at the top of the picture. However, here he gives greater focus to the principal action by reducing the width of the picture, removing much of the seascape backdrop on either side, and by placing the monster between Ruggiero and Angelica. Although the canvas is small, Ingres paints specific areas – such as the gold armour, silk cloak and griffin’s feathers – in meticulous detail. Bathed in moonlight, Angelica’s pale skin stands out against the dark sea and rocks. Ingres creates an almost tactile contrast between her exposed and vulnerable body and the various hard surfaces – the armour and rocks – and the sharp objects – the lance, griffin’s beak and talons, and monster’s teeth – that surround her. Angelica’s sinuous outline is modelled on a classical Venus. However, Ingres exaggerates the length of her limp arms and the backward tilt of her neck and swollen throat for greater expressive effect.

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