Rinaldo and Armida
38.1 cm x 48.26 cm (15 in. x 19 in.)
Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Baciccio)
(Genoa, Italy, 1639 - 1709, Rome, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
In a passage from Tarquato Tasso’s late 16th-century epic poem Gerusalemme liberata [Jerusalem Freed], the sorceress Armida puts the Christian hero Rinaldo to sleep in order to kill him, instead falls in love and instructs her nymphs to carry him to her palace. Reflecting the triumph of beauty and romantic love over rational resolve, the passage was a frequent subject of Baroque painting. Here it receives appropriately lyrical and enthralling expression. The style is that of Baciccio’s maturity, with its foreshortenings more pronounced, its rhythms more insistent, its palette even more coordinated than in the adjacent Study for ‘Justice, Peace, and Truth’. Although the scale and the approximate handling indicate that this painting was a preparatory sketch, and the literary subject corresponds to others fully developed by Baciccio, the composition is not known in any other version.