TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)

Rinaldo and Armida

Oil on canvas, 105 x 143 cm
Staatsgalerie, Würzburg

Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Liberated), the great heroic epos by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), published in 1581, not only inspired Tiepolo to create his series of paintings in the Tasso Hall of the Villa Valmerana near Vicenza, but also to create individual portrayals such as this one. The episode involving Armida and the hero Rinaldo is set in the days of the crusades.

The enchantress Armida, resting after the rigours of battle, recognizes him as an enemy and is about to slay him. But at that moment, her hate turns to love and she bears him away to an enchanted island far from war, where Rinaldo is caught in the spell of her love. Two warriors sent to look for him make him aware of his error by holding up a shield as a mirror, reminding him of the battle, and take him back with them.

Tiepolo's Armida is a magnificent Venus figure carrying a mirror as the instrument of her magical powers and accompanied by Amor as the bringer of love. The young hero rests devoted at her breast, wearing a garland of flowers as the sign of his entanglement.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.