Orlando Furioso: 500th anniversary of Ariosto’s masterpiece

Tiziano Vecellio | Ritratto di Ariosto

Tiziano Vecellio, Ritratto di Ariosto (1510 circa). National Gallery di Londra. Image source: it.wikipedia.org


In 2016 several anniversaries will be celebrated.
The 500th anniversary of the death of Giovanni Bellini will be commemorated, about which I talked on the occasion of the exhibition in Venice of The Drunkenness of Noah, his last masterpiece. But also the 500th anniversary of the first edition of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (The Frenzy of Orlando or Raging Orlando) (1516) will be celebrated.

On the occasion of this event, the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara will host the exhibition “ORLANDO FURIOSO 500 ANNI. Cosa vedeva Ariosto quando chiudeva gli occhi” (“ORLANDO FURIOSO 500 YEARS. What did Ariosto see when he closed his eyes”) on view from September 24th 2016 to January 8th 2017.

Since I haven’t seen the exhibition yet, I can’t talk about the works on display, the exhibition set-up, and everything I usually talk about when I suggest you an event you can’t miss.
Instead, I want tell you why this anniversary is so important, and why I put this exhibition on my list of unmissable exhibitions in October.

Paolo Uccello | San Giorgio e il drago

Paolo Uccello, San Giorgio e il drago, c. 1458-60. Parigi, Musée Jacquemart-André. Image source: http://www.studioesseci.net

The importance of Orlando Furioso

When I visit an exhibition sometimes I know what masterpieces I will admire, as on the occasion of the exhibition devoted to Impressionism in Treviso; but sometimes I need to do research in order to understand if the exhibition is worth visiting, as on the occasion of the exhibition devoted to the 500th anniversary of Orlando Furioso.

I’m visiting this exhibition for 3 reasons.

1. Orlando Furioso is the first Italian classic poem

On April 22nd 1516 in a printing house in Ferrara, the poem Orlando Furioso was printed.
It is the work symbol of the Italian Renaissance, and it was born in the same period in which Michelangelo and Raphael were creating their masterpieces.
Orlando Furioso is the last chivalric romance and the first modern poem, but it is also the first Italian classic poem.

2. Ludovico Ariosto witnessed a Renaissance revolution

Ariosto edited his poem, printed in Ferrara, during all his life, while the world around him was completely changing.
Specifically, in art world new languages were born, and a style whose main protagonists would be Raphael, Michelangelo and Titian, emerged.
Ariosto witnessed the linguistic revolution of painting, seeing with his own eyes works by Michelangelo and by Raphael, which inspired his tales.

3. The enchantment of Orlando Furioso

Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso is a continuation of Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love), Matteo Maria Boiardo’s literary effort, printed in Ferrara 30 years earlier.
Feats accomplished by Charlemagne’s paladins moved to Ariosto’s poem, who, however, would portrait the courtly society of the Italian Renaissance, such as the court of the D’Este family of Ferrara, and the cities linked to it, such as Mantua (on the occasion of my journey to Mantua I described the marvels of Renaissance you can still admire in that city).

Ariosto was sure that everybody is a little crazy and furious, and that in every aspect of life there’s a little bit of enchantment.
The theme of this poem is basically desire, and desire will bring me to Ferrara to visit the exhibition.

Giorgione | Il Gattamelata

Giorgione, Ritratto di guerriero con scudiero detto “Il Gattamelata”, c. 1505-10. Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image source: http://www.studioesseci.net

Corno Orlando

Olifante detto “Corno d’Orlando”, fine XI sec. Avorio. Tolosa, Musée Paul-Dupuy. Image source: http://www.studioesseci.net

Tiziano Vecellio | Il baccanale degli Andrii

Tiziano Vecellio, Il baccanale degli Andrii, c. 1523/26 – Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Image source: http://www.studioesseci.net

Cosa vedeva Ariosto quando chiudeva gli occhi
Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti
24th september 2016 – 8th january 2017



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