TINTORETTO
(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

The Liberation of Arsinoe

c. 1556
Oil on canvas, 153 x 251 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The Egyptian Princess Arsinoe is freed from her prison on Pharos to lead a rebellion against Caesar. Tintoretto moves the scene of the action from Alexandria to the Venetian lagoon, and lends satirical elements to this cloak-and-dagger story: the gondola in which the escape is made has a carved mask of a satyr at the bows, the noble knight is losing his balance as he indulges in a kiss that might be out of a movie. Tintoretto has replaced the rope mentioned in the textual source of the story by a rope ladder. As the small still-life of weapons in the gondola suggests, the knight has shot an arrow carrying a thin thread in through the tower window, so that Arsinoe and her companion could pull up the rope ladder fastened to the thread.