About this artwork
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s monumental ceiling and wall decorations epitomize the brilliant exuberance of the late Baroque style. Tiepolo enjoyed an international career and was called upon to use his mastery of light, color, and illusion to transform palaces and monasteries in his native Venice and elsewhere in Italy, as well as in Germany and Spain. This painting and three others at the Art Institute, together with smaller decorative panels and a ceiling painting, once graced the cabinet of mirrors, a richly decorated room in the Venetian palace of the powerful Cornaro family. The suite illustrates Torquato Tasso’s popular sixteenth-century epic romance Jerusalem Delivered, which is set in the eleventh century, during the First Crusade, when Western knights sought to take Jerusalem from the Muslims. The canvas captures the moment of Rinaldo’s seduction: the beautiful sorceress Armida has just arrived to divert the sleeping hero from his crusade. Accompanied by her attendant nymph and a cupid figure, she appears like a beautiful mirage, enthroned on a billowing cloud, her drapery and shawl wafting gently behind her. Altough Tasso’s story symbolizes the conﬂict between love and duty, Tiepolo’s depiction of a magical, bucolic world—enhanced by effervescent colors, luminous atmosphere, and dense, creamy paint—seems to evoke only love’s enchantment.
- Giambattista Tiepolo
- Armida Encounters the Sleeping Rinaldo
- Oil on canvas
- 187.5 × 216.8 cm (73 13/16 × 85 3/8 in.)
- Bequest of James Deering