Nicolas Poussin

Tancred and Erminia

Tancred and Erminia
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Author: Nicolas Poussin
Painting, Oil on canvas, 98.5x146.4 cm
Origin: France, Late 1620s - early 1630s

Poussin was perhaps the leading exponent of French 17th-century Classicism. For this magnificent work, he took as his subject an episode from a poem by the 16th-century writer Torquato Tasso, "The Liberation of Jerusalem". Erminia, daughter of the king of Antioch, rushes to the aid of the Crusader Knight Tancred, wounded in a duel with a giant. The young man standing nearby is Tancred's arms-bearer. To save her loved one, Erminia takes up a sword and cuts of her miraculous hair, which has healing properties. In her passionate movement and the gentle incline of her head we see a reflection of the idea of self-sacrifice for the sake of love.

Such emotion and painterly softness in the treatment of form are characteristic only of works produced during a very short period in Poussin's life. Later his work came to be dominated by greater severity and rationality.

Personage: Tancred
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: Collection of Jacques Aved, Paris, 1766
Theme: Literature
Exibition: French Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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