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“Ruggiero Freeing Angelica” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - Roger Delivering Angelica

“Ruggiero Freeing Angelica” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

“Ruggiero Freeing Angelica” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was inspired by the 16th-century Italian epic poem called “Orlando Furioso” by Ariosto and depicts Ruggiero saving Angelica. Ruggiero is portrayed as the knight riding a hippogriff, which is a legendary creature half horse and half eagle. According to the poem, the hero is riding near Brittany’s coast where he finds a beautiful woman, who is chained to rock on the Isle of Tears. She has been abducted and stripped naked by barbarians who have left her there as a human sacrifice to a sea monster.

This painting depicts Ruggiero riding to her aid just as the beast approaches Angelica. Ruggiero kills the creature with his lance and rescues Angelica. The poem is a chivalric romance of a Christian knight when war between Charlemagne’s Christian paladins and the Saracen army that has invaded Europe and is attempting to overthrow the Christian empire. The poem is about war and love and the romantic ideal of chivalry with a mix of fantasy, humour and tragedy. One of the principal themes is the hero’s unrequited love for the pagan princess Angelica, which drives him mad.

Ingres made many preparatory drawings for the composition which have survived. It hung above a doorway in the throne room of Versailles from 1820 until 1823 and Ingres painted several later versions of this composition including one in a different format that is exhibited at the National Gallery, London.

Ingres was a French Neoclassical painter who thought of himself as a painter of history and who today is highly regarded for his many portraits. Critics often found his style bizarre and archaic, his expressive distortions of form and space make him an important precursor of modern art,  and his work influenced Picasso and Matisse and other modernists. The Turkish Bath, the last of his several Orientalist paintings of the female nude, was finished at the age of 83.

Ruggiero Freeing Angelica

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres