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Work Roger the Saracen and Princess Angelica
Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century
Ruggiero and Angelica
© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Philippe Fuzeau
This bronze figure group illustrates an episode from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso in a very dramatic manner. Comparison with a documented work allows the group to be attributed to Ferdinando Tacca, court sculptor to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The group was part of Louis XIV's collection, before being forfeited at the Revolution.
Princess Angelica is here about to swallow the magic ring that will make her invisible, allowing her to escape the advances of the Roger the Saracen, the man who has saved her. Although there could otherwise be some confusion as to the figures depicted, the scene is identifed by an inscription on the front of the terrace on which the figures stand. The subject is taken from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, a long narrative poem published in 1516. In inventories of the the Royal Furniture Repository, the work is identified as a standing figure of Mars looking at a seated figure of Venus.
The working-up of the model and the casting of the group are attributed to Ferdinando Tacca (1619-86), who succeeded his father Pietro (1577-1640) as court sculptor to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Ferdinando is also responsible for a relief depicting the martyrdom of St. Stephen in the church of S. Stefano in Florence; the figures of the relief are stylistically very close to those of this group.
Historical Overview and Style
This group was bequeathed to Louis XIV, along with thirty other bronzes, in 1693 by André Le Nôtre, the king's gardener. It is identified by an inscription on the armor on the ground as number 281 of the Crown Bronzes, under which number it is found in various inventories of the Royal Furniture Repository. During the French Revolution, in 1796, it was used to pay a supplier to the Republic, Jacques de Chapeaurouge; it was acquired by the Louvre in 1924 at an auction. The frontal presentation and the grand gestures that unite the two figures, alone on a terrace, show how style had evolved since the classical restraint of the sixteenth century and the twisting figures of Giambologna. The theatrical nature of the work is a facet of Ferdinando Tacca's art that can also be found in the altar frontal in the church of S. Stefano in Florence, which can be dated on documentary evidence to 1653.
Attributed to Ferdinando TACCA (Florence, 1619 - Florence, 1686)
Ruggiero and Angelica
Second half of 17th century
H. 0.43 m; W. 0.48 m
Gift of Le Nôtre to Louis XIV in 1693; acquired in 1924
Display case 2
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