Rinaldo’s Farewell to Armida by Lanfranco Acquired by Zurich

Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)
Rinaldo’s Farewell to Armida, 1614
Oil on canvas - 109.2 x 178.5 cm
Zurich, Kunsthaus
Photo : Galerie Canesso

22/3/14 - Acquisition - Zurich, Kunsthaus - Rinaldo’s Farewell to Armida at the Canesso Gallery was one of the most beautiful paintings presented at TEFAF in Maastricht [1] and has now been acquired by the Kunsthaus in Zurich. Armida unconscious, presented in the same position as the Ariadne at the Vatican, a model often used by painters and particularly appropriate for this iconography, is abandoned by Rinaldo. The hero embarks while throwing a last, sorrowful, look at her as if the witch’s spell still held sway over him.
This iconography, with a similar placing of the figures in the composition, identical references to Antiquity and a ship showing the same reduced proportions compared to the characters, is relatively frequent in the 17th century. The prototype can probably be identified as being the engraving made by Antonio Tempesta [2], but Lanfranco’s work is perhaps the earliest painted version. Other examples are Sisto Badalocchio’s painting (private collection) or, later and French (but working in Rome) those by Charles Errard at the Musée in Bouxwiller or by Charles Dufresnoy (France, private collection). We might also point out that the Bacchus Discovering Ariane on Naxos from Orleans, by Le Nain brothers, also repeats this composition but with a much smaller landscape and inverting the action (Bacchus here does not abandon Ariadne), with the allusion to the Vatican Ariadne becoming of course even more obvious. All of these works evoke an opera scene, long before this epic poem was even transposed into music [3]
The work, dating from 1614, is an early production. It belonged to Cardinal Giacomo Sannesi (c. 1557-1621) who most likely acquired it directly from the artist. Erich Schleier, the first to publish it, "considers the painting as a unicum in the artist’s first period, influenced by Borgianni [4]". We should also point out the influence of Il Domenichino in this work. In concluding, there is a pendant to this painting, a nocturne representing The Adoration of the Shepherds which can be found in the collection held by the Duke of Northumberland.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 22 mars 2014


[1] It had already been published in 2006 in the gallery catalogue : Deux tableaux de la collection Sannesi. Tableaux des écoles émilienne et lombarde.

[2] See Patrick Ramade’s entry about Renaud quittant Armide by Charles Errard at the exhibition Grand siècle (Montreal, Rennes, Montpellier, 1993).

[3] We did not find any references to early 17th century operas but the possibility remains.

[4] Pointed out by Véronique Damian in the catalogue entry.

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