Tancred Baptising Clorinda
(17th cent.), oil, canvas, 107 x 181 cm
NG S 1530, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The motif here is based on the famous passage in the epic poem Gerusalemme liberata by the poet Torquato Tasso, which everyone knew and admired in 17th century Italy. In Canto XII (65–69) the Christian hero Tancred recognises the heathen Clorinda; he had injured her in battle, but then he baptised her with water which he brought from a spring in his helmet.
The figure of Tancred in particular displays many similarities with the art of Giovanni Lanfranco, but on the other hand there is no lack of echoes of Guercino and other 17th century Bolognese painters. We must seek the artist who painted this picture of respectable quality among the masters active in the Emilia region between 1640 and 1660, but none of the names hypothetically suggested so far has convinced us. The background with the twilight sky, which gives the scene a “romantic” atmosphere, is not original, there were later interventions and additions. The light of the dusk does not correspond to the source of light which gives volume to the figures.
Preservation: Good. Overpainted sky.
Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: Unknown. FCC, 1945.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 30; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 16.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 23, Cat. No. 30 (Pier Francesco Mola?); Zeri and Rozman 1993, p. 136, Cat. No. 16, Fig. 26; Benati 1993, p. 27, note 21 (Emilio Savonanzi).