(b. ca. 1587, Nancy, d. 1633, Nancy)

Doge Enrico Dandolo Recruiting for the Crusade

Oil on canvas
Palazzo Ducale, Venice

The present decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Great Council) in the Palazzo Ducale was realized after the disastrous fire of 1577 during which all the structures of the ship's-keel Gothic ceiling and the wall-paintings were destroyed. An immense flat ceiling, in accordance with the taste of the end of the century, was constructed with gilded cornices sculpted in high-relief, which framed a series of paintings. The canvases were dedicated, thematically, to the Glorification of Venice, in remembrance of the numerous military undertakings in the East or on the mainland by the Venetian ground troops. On the ceiling great importance was given to the victories of the Venetian army in conquering the mainland; along the wall to the dispute between Alexander III and Frederick Barbarossa, who reached an agreement in Venice with the political mediation of Doge Sebastiano Ziani; and to the events of the Fourth Crusade, led by Doge Enrico Dandolo in the early years of the 13th century.

Jean Leclerc's Doge Enrico Dandolo Recruiting for the Crusade belongs to the series on the wall depicting events of the Fourth Crusade. It represents Doge Enrico Dandolo and the Crusader Captains in the Basilica of St Mark swearing loyalty before leaving for the expedition. The painting was designed by Carlo Saraceni and executed by Leclerc after the death of Saraceni.

The Fourth Crusade was the first act of an expedition that aimed at conquering the Holy Land. It ended up subduing the revolt of Zara against Venice and taking over the city of Constantinople after a terrible and systematic pillage. Baldwin of Flanders was elected the new Christian emperor. The Venetian fleet was led by the old but still energetic doge, Enrico Dandolo. The event took place between 1202 and 1204.