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Angelica at the Rock (After Ingres), 1878

Georges-Pierre Seurat
French, 1859-1891
Oil on canvas
32-5/8 x 26-1/8 in. (83 x 66.3 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Jennifer Jones Simon
M.1997.1.4.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

Although Georges Seurat is best known for pioneering the innovative paint handling technique known as pointillisme, in which an image is built up from discrete patches of color, he spent his early years training in the approved academic manner at the École des Beaux-Arts. The present painting, a selective reduction of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Roger Freeing Angelica, is one of thirteen copies that Seurat made after works of art by the famed French draftsman. Ingres’s 1819 composition, inspired by Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso, depicts a knight rescuing a princess from a vicious sea monster. By isolating the female figure from her literary narrative, Seurat focuses attention on her plight: the threat of abandonment and near death on the Isle of Tears, alluded to by a vertical strip of churning water at her feet. The result is a curious homage to the linear clarity and anatomical oddities of Ingres’s portrayal, which were widely admired by Seurat and his contemporaries. Sixteen years later, fellow painter Edgar Degas bought a version of Roger Freeing Angelica for his own private collection.

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