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Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, Genoese, 1581–1644),
Erminia Among the Shepherds , 1620–30
oil on canvas, 58 x 78 in.; 147.32 x 198.12 cm
Museum Membership Fund Purchase, 1952.270

This painting illustrates a scene from Torquato Tasso’s great epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (1575): Erminia, a Saracen princess and warrior maiden, is listening to an old shepherd describing his peaceful country life, making her wish she could become a shepherdess herself. Tasso’s poetic lines are vividly brought to life in the tranquil atmosphere of the rustic landscape as well as in the contrast between the troubled Erminia (representing a life of strife) and the contented old man (embodying peaceful harmony). 

Variously influenced, Strozzi’s richly textured paintings successfully blend bright object colors and factual naturalism with sensuality and atmospheric softness.

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