Tancred recognising Clorinda

WAG 1995.280


The story of Tancred and Clorinda is one of many episodes in the Italian poet Torquato Tasso's extensive epic poem 'Jerusalem Delivered' (Gerusalemme Deliverata). It was published in 1581 and set at the time of the first Crusade in 1095-99. Tancred is a soldier in the Crusader army engaged in the battle to capture Jerusalem for the Christians. He falls in love with Clorinda, a warrior woman fighting for the Saracens (a Classical term referring to the people of the Arabian peninsula, in medieval Latin it was synonymous with Muslims). One night, Clorinda dons armour to get inside the city's battlements, and is pursued by Tancred on horseback, who wounds her unaware of her true identity. On removing her helmet Tancred recognises her and as she lies cradled in his arms she begs to be baptised a Christian. Although William Roscoe owned two illustrated copies of Tasso's poem, one published in 1590 and the other in 1617, he did not recognise the scene as coming from it. This drawing was among a group of six by various unattributed Italian artists that was sold as one lot (603) on the final day of William Roscoe's sale of drawings on the 26th September 1816. An earlier seventeenth or eighteenth-century Italian collector, possibly based in Bologna, believed that this drawing along with WAG 1995.281 and WAG 1995.282 were by Pier Francesco Cittadini (1616-81), who was born in Milan but, aged 17, entered the Bolognese studio of Guido Reni. This drawing has, however, been accepted as by Donato Creti by Marco Riccomini in his catalogue of Creti's drawings published in Turin in 2012, cat. number 49.1.