This sculpture by Duseigneur since it was publicly presented at the Salon of 1831, became the maximum representation of the spirit of Romanticism. Or so it was defined by one of the most prominent critics of the time, the writer Teophile Gautier.
And that the work that was presented was nothing more than the plaster model prior to the bronze, and that is that the figure that is exhibited today in the Louvre Museum was melted down many years later, in 1867, by the son of the sculptor who was in charge of selling it to the French State, who initially exhibited it in the Luxembourg Gardens, and definitively moved to its current location at the Louvre de Paris.
Orlando Furioso by Jean Bernard Duseigneur
Romanticism always had a good source of inspiration in the Middle Ages. And Duseigneur's art is a great example, including himself, who went by the name of Jean Bernard, but called himself Jehan, a very medieval name.
The fact is that for this work he sought inspiration in a literary work by Italian Ariosto, who had described the great French hero of the famous Song of Roland from another point of view. So we see the warrior after being defeated not by his enemies, but by frustrated love for Princess Angelica.
Orlando is furious at the betrayal and wants to free himself from the bonds with which his own teammates havereduced to contain all his fury. It is a most violent scene, with his whole body twisted by the force he is doing, by hands that grab the ground and a crazy face. Without a doubt, a scene of maximum romantic expression, of overflowing feelings. He is crazy in love and no one knows what will happen.
The truth is that there is enormous emotion in the work, both physical due to the excellent display of muscles and tense postures of the body, and psychological due to the fury that the character's face transmits.
It's pure drama, and a perfect metaphor for one of the most beloved themes of romantic art: the possibility of each one to free himself and thus be able to give free rein to the passions, creativity and all the inner strength.
However, there is an element that can also be understood as a nod to more academic art, and that is the idea of introducing us to that medieval character, but naked. Without the armor with which these types of characters usually appear. It is true that this nudity serves him to compose a body of muscles and gestures full of expressiveness, but it is also a way of linking him to the classical sculpture and loved by theacademic art, without forgetting that Duseigneur shows us here as a true gifted for anatomical representation.