Saint Michel explique au Silence la mission qu’il doit remplir/The Archange Michael and the Silence before the Cave of Sleep
second half of the 1780s
Black chalk, washed in brown and greyish brown
Inv. No. 16801 (Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e. V.)
38.5 × 25.8 cm
Here the artist’s concern was with a visionary atmosphere, which is encountered by the viewer in searching lines and the distribution of light and shade by means of brushwork. This scene is one of a group of more than 150 known drawings by Fragonard on the Orlando Furioso epic by Lodovico Ariost (1474–1533). Based on the Song of Roland, the story with its sixteenth-century Italian origins had undergone a Renaissance in new illustrated editions of the eighteenth century. With its monsters and magic, its Biblical and historical characters, the “Frenzy of Orlando” offered the imagination a wide scope. The relaxed quality of the Ariost drawings precludes the possibility that they served as masters for engraved illustrations. They owe their fascination to the handling of the line in a manner both free and wilfully controlled, as well as to virtuoso compositions and the rendition of light by means of a wash-like application of the ink – a feature which contributes decisively to the formation of volume and the structuring of the pictorial space.
- Le concours / The Competition more