(b. 1604, Chamagne, d. 1682, Roma)

Erminia and the Shepherds

Oil on canvas
Private collection

Princess Erminia was a character in the epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso. In this tale she falls in love with the Christian knight Tancred, and betrays her people to aid him. Once she discovers that Tancred is in love with Clorinde, however, she returns to join the Muslims. She subsequently steals Clorinde's armor then joins a group of shepherds.

In his paintings Claude creates a loose space, almost always leading the eye to infinity at some point, and often with a wide line of horizon. This space is filled with atmosphere which penetrates the trees standing in it and forms the continuum of the picture. Recession is established often without the use of linear perspective, by the subtle degradation of colour, usually in objects such as trees which have no sharp outline. Moreover, these objects may be disposed on a horizontal plane, as are, for instance, the trees covering the valley in the Erminia, in which the eye is led from the river to the extreme distance simply by the change in colour of the groves.