HAYEZ, Francesco
(b. 1791, Venezia, d. 1882, Milano)

Rinaldo and Armida

Oil on canvas
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

This youthful work was to some extent still rooted in Venetian art of the late eighteenth century but also reveals Canova's influence. Hayez created a splendid effect in the way the light filters through the green of the garden of the seductive enchantress. He also showed virtuoso talent in the way the light reflects in the circular shield that glitters in the foreground.

The theme is taken from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"). Armida is the enchantress who holds Rinaldo under her spell in a magical palace that is an illusion. Without him, affairs are going badly for the crusaders. The pastoral idyll, Armida's hate for the crusaders turned to love for one Crusader, and the call of duty that leaves Armida abandoned, all appealed to Baroque and Rococo artists. George Frideric Handel composed an opera using a libretto written by Giacomo Rossi, based on episodes of Gerusalemme liberata.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Two arias, Rinaldo, Acts II and III