Giovan Francesco Barbieri
known as il Guercino

Erminia finding the wounded Tancred

145 x 185 cm; oil on canvas (FC 459)

The subject is taken from Jerusalem Liberated, which tells of the skirmishes of love and adventure experienced by the various young protagonists: “At Tancred’s name /she ran with speed, like one drunk and mad./ On seeing his pale handsome face,/ She did not alight, no, she fell from the saddle.” The seductive light of the moon delicately illuminates the figures whose presence in the foreground dominates the space that at that time was often reserved for the background landscape. The painting is attributed to the youthful phase of the artist’s career, and is a prelude to the Roman masterpieces executed in 1621/23. It has been dated to 1618, according to Malvasia (1678), who reported: “He painted a wounded Tancred found by Erminia, after having battled with Argante, for Sig. Marcello Provenzali from Cento, famous for his skill in mosaic making; this man then gave the painting to Cardinal Pignatelli.” There are known copies and a reversed engraving by G.B. Pasqualini from 1620.

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