IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
APRIL 2003
Volume 95, Issue 4
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GRAPHIC:  ResearchOriginal Source
The art of versatility

Four Chicago faculty members have found reason to include Angelica and Ruggiero by Francesco Montelatici (known as Cecco Bravo) in Andrew W. Mellon exhibitions they’ve cocurated at the Smart Museum. One of the Smart’s earliest acquisitions, the 12 3/4 x 17 1/2–inch oil painting (circa 1640–45) depicts the moment in Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem the Orlando Furioso just after the paladin Ruggiero has rescued Angelica, princess of Cathay, from a sea monster. Eager to ravish the maiden, Ruggiero struggles with his armor while Angelica magically disappears and his winged steed flies away.

PHOTO:  Courtesy the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art
Courtesy the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art

Through September 14 the painting adorns the title wall of The Painted Text: Picturing Narrative in European Art, cocurated by Romance languages & literature professor Frederick de Armas and Elizabeth Rodini, PhD’95, the Smart’s Mellon projects curator. Rodini says the Cecco Bravo is particularly appealing for this exhibit because it portrays “a moment so clearly derived from a particular literary source.” An illustrated text of the poem, lent by Special Collections, is also on display.

In her 2001–02 show A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500–1850, Romance languages & literature professor Elissa B. Weaver used the artwork to portray “bodies concealed and revealed.” Earlier in 2001 the painting’s pastoral qualities prompted Larry Norman, associate dean and master of the Humanities Collegiate Division, to include it in The Theatrical Baroque. And in the 1999–2000 show The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe, former associate professor of art history Ingrid Rowland found that Angelica’s impending disappearance fit her subtheme “transformation of the antique.” The painting also has made two visits to museums in Cecco Bravo’s native Florence, Italy.




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