Titian's Ruggiero and Angelica: A tribute to Ludovico Ariosto

Luba Freedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Titian's drawing (25 × 40 cm) in Musée Bonnat (Bayonne), showing a recumbent voluptuous nuda in a lush landscape, depicts an episode from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (×, 94–107). It conveys the very essence of the romance, proclaimed in the famous first lines of the poem. The episode about Ruggiero's rescue of Angelica that Ariosto described and that Titian rendered with acclaimed ‘verisimilitude’ occurred in an imaginary place, in the ‘olden days’. By emphasizing the recumbent nuda, her posture, and gestures, rather than the knights heroic deeds, Titian intimates Angelica's role in Ruggiero's life. The motif of the recumbent nude transcends the subject's boundaries. I suggest interpreting this figure as Voluptas, understood ambivalently in both antiquity and the Renaissance. Titian created a pen-and-ink visual counterpart to Ariosto's literary account of the romance as a whole. The episode serves as an example of what ‘usually’ happens in a romance, as pars pro toto.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)287-300
Number of pages14
JournalRenaissance Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


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