The painting “Herminia and Vafrino find the wounded Tancred after the fight against Argante” was made by Giannantonio Guardi between 1750 and 1755.
Giannantonio Guardi is a complex artist, his brother was the well-known painter Francesco, who together with Canaletto and Bernardo Bellotto ushered in the famous season of Venetian landscape painting (Vedute Veneziane). His sister Maria Cecilia married at a very young age the leading Veneto-European painter of the time, Giambattista Tiepolo.
The painting is the only one by Guardi found in the Gallerie dell’Accademia. It was discovered an English collection by Rodolfo Silverio, secret agent and art historian, known for the recovery of numerous works of art stolen from Italy during the Second World War.
The painting depicts a scene from the Jerusalem Delivered (Canto 19), the famous epic poem written by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso (16th century): Princess Herminia of Antioch, after having abandoned the shepherds, decides to attach herserself to the army that from Egypt is moving towards Jerusalem, already under siege from the Christians, in order to help the besieged. Shortly after Herminia meets Vafrino, squire of the Christian knight Tancred, who has been sent to the Saracen military camp as a spy. Herminia does not report Vafrino, asking him instead to take her to Jerusalem. Along their way they find the dead body of the terrible Saracen knight Argante and just beyond it the apparently lifeless body of Tancred. Tancred turns out to be alive, Herminia nurses him and finds the courage to declare her love to him, but Tancred sadly cannot hear her because he is unconscious.
Guardi’s painting was probably part of a series of 13 canvases inspired by an edition of the Jerusalem Delivered with engravings by Giovan Battista Piazzetta that Guardi reinterprets with a fresh chromatism, an airy brushstroke and a theatrical taste that accentuate the musicality and the grace of this typical rococo composition.
The art work, now undergoing a conservative restoration intervention, is going to be exhibited in Room no. 5 at on ground floor of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, whose set up, entirely dedicated to 18th century Venetian painting, is part of another project entirely supported by Venetian Heritage.