NICOLAS POUSSIN (1594 – 1665)

Tancred and Erminia

Rome, about 1634

Oil on canvas

75.5 x 99.7 cm

Tancred, a Christian warrior, lies wounded after slaying the giant Argantes, shown to the right.  Tancred is helped by his squire and by Erminia, a Saracen princess, in love with the Christian knight.  She cuts off her hair to bind his wounds.  The putti in the dark sky illuminate the warrior, who will be restored to life and eventually united with Erminia.

Poussin took the subject from Tasso’s epic poem Jerusalem Delivered (1581) which describes the First Crusade (1096-99).  The French painter shows the figures in classical dress, in keeping with his antique style, if not the events.

Purchased 1938 (No.38.9)

See this painting in the Red Gallery

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