Saint Michael Finds Discord and Other Vices in a Convent: Illustration to Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso", Canto XIV, c. 1785-1790
black chalk with brown wash on laid paper
39.3 x 26.3 cm irregular
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18939)
This preliminary drawing is noticeable for its free, impetuous style and its minimally defined composition. It belongs to a group of 137 drawings made to illustrate the epic work "Orlando Furioso", by the Italian court poet Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533) and first published in 1516. Deriving from the narrative tradition of courtly love, the poem is set against a backdrop of religious wars between Christians and pagans. It recounts the story of Orlando, a Christian knight who falls in love with the bewitching oriental beauty Angelica, and its tragic conclusion.