“Erminia and The Shepherds”


A period northern Italian baroque painting on canvas that may have been painted as a study, (or what is commonly referred to as a bozzetto to a larger commissioned painting). The painting has been professionally restored and is unsigned. It is set in a 19thC frame that is sympathetic to the period.

This scene is drawn from “Jerusalem Delivered” (1581), an epic poem about the Crusades by Torquato Tasso. Tasso recounts the flight and disguise of the Muslim princess Erminia, who has fallen in love with the Christian knight Tancred. The painting depicts the moment when Erminia approaches the home of an old shepherd and his family as she is fleeing crusaders in hot pursuit. In this painting the shepherd and his family including a young toddler appear frightened of the warrior but later in the poem the family’s reaction changes to admiration and astonishment when Erminia removes her helmet, revealing her identity as that of a beautiful young woman.

This episode of the poem plus the moment when Erminia removes her helmet has been painted many time by some very well known Baroque and Italian Renaissance artists. In fact this study bears many similarities to a paining of the subject by Guercino, although Guercino chose to depict the moment when Erminia removes her helmet to reveal her real identity to the shepherds and not the moment where her identity is still concealed.

Dimensions of canvas: 17″W (43cm) x 13.5″H (34cm)

Ref. BK DL5555