The pictorial series "Jerusalem Delivered"
by Paolo Finoglio

The Torture of Olindo and Sofronia
Clorinda meets with Tancredi
The duel between Raymond of Tolosa and Argante
Tancredi gives Clorinda a dying baptism
Rinaldo and Armida in the magical garden
Rinaldo in front of the shield of the magician of Ascalona
Armida tries to hold back Rinaldo
Rinaldo abandons the magical island
Erminia finds a wounded Tancredi
Rinaldo kills enemies at random

The Torture of Olindo and Sofronia

Evident is the staged dimension conferred to the composition and to the characters. The narrow space pushes the protagonists, emotionally busy in a dialogue full of looks and gestures, onto the first floor where there is staged a set of “appearances”. Some art historians see in the character to the right a self-portrait of Finoglio, this being the only figure to look toward the fruitore, as such disclosing the pretense of the represented scene. The scenes are beautiful, with panels constructed so that the lighting carefully individualizes each one.

Literary references:

Ta'en was the damsel, and without remorse,
The king condemned her guiltless to the fire,
Her veil and mantle plucked they off by force,
And bound her tender arms in twisted wire:
Dumb was the silver dove, while from her corse
These hungry kites plucked off her rich attire,
And for some deal perplexed was her sprite,
Her damask late, now changed to purest white.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. II, st. 26)

(...) Silent she saw the one, the other 'plain,
The weaker body lodged the nobler heart:
Yet him she saw lament, as if his pain
Were grief and sorrow for another's smart,
And her keep silence so, as if her eyes
Dumb orators were to entreat the skies.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. II, st. 42)

(...) She asked an aged man, seemed grave and good,
"Come say me, sir," quoth she, "what hard constraint
Would murder here love's queen and beauty's king?
What fault or fare doth to this death them bring?"

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. II, st. 43)

Clorinda meets with Tancredi

The celebration in this Finogliesco series is with the two characters; linked to the desire of the buyer to exalt, through the image of the Christian hero, the noble origins of the county of Conversano. This is seen by Tancredi of the first Crusade with Altavilla, a feudal family of Conversano during the Norman period. Dominating the space of the painting are the great scenes of duels, with gigantic horses reminding one of the large cars frequently used in theatrical shows.

Literary references:

This while forth pricked Clorinda from the throng
And 'gainst Tancredi set her spear in rest,
Upon their helms they cracked their lances long,
And from her head her gilden casque he kest,
For every lace he broke and every thong,
And in the dust threw down her plumed crest,
About her shoulders shone her golden locks,
Like sunny beams, on alabaster rocks.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. III, st. 21)

Her looks with fire, her eyes with lightning blaze,
Sweet was her wrath, what then would be her smile?
Tancred, whereon think'st thou? what dost thou gaze?
Hast thou forgot her in so short a while?
The same is she, the shape of whose sweet face
The God of Love did in thy heart compile,
The same that left thee by the cooling stream,
Safe from sun's heat, but scorched with beauty's beam.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. III, st. 22)

Not once the baron lifts his armed hand
To strike the maid, but gazing on her eyes,
Where lordly Cupid seemed in arms to stand,
No way to ward or shun her blows he tries (...)

(Torquato Tasso, freed Jerusalem, c. III, st. 24)

The duel between Raymond of Tolosa and Argante

The exaltation of valor and heroism in the chivalrous world is transformed to this painting in a kind of "put in scene", where the impetus, the violence, cruelty, is recomposed and broken through with measured gestures and solemn expressions. Interesting in this as in other paintings is the depiction of busy figures in the midst of a chaotic battle whose function is that to amplify the heroism of the protagonists, introducing a kind of correlation to the story.

Literary references:

(...) Thus parleyed they to meet in equal tilt,
Each took his aim at other's helm on high, (...)

(Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata, c. VII, st. 86)

Ma il feroce pagan, che seco vòle
piú stretta zuffa, a lui s'aventa e serra.
L'altro, ch'al peso di sí vasta mole
teme d'andar co 'l suo destriero a terra,
qui cede, ed indi assale, e par che vòle,
intorniando con girevol guerra,
e i lievi imperii il rapido cavallo
segue del freno, e non pone orma in fallo.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. VII, st. 89)

(...) But lo, at hand unseen was help divine,
Which saves when worldly comforts none appear,
The angel on his targe received that stroke,
And on that shield Argantes' sword was broke.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. VII, st. 92)

The sword was broke, therein no wonder lies
If earthly tempered metal could not hold
Against that target forged above the skies,
Down fell the blade in pieces on the mould.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. VII, st. 93)

Tancredi gives Clorinda a dying baptism

The "pietas" of the Christian hero is the true protagonist of this scene. Of great effect are the metallic reflection on the armor of Tancredi and the beautiful dying Clorinda, whose figure intensely conveys a lyrical note to the scene.

Literary references:

"Friend, thou hast won, I pardon thee, nor save
This body, that all torments can endure,
But save my soul, baptism I dying crave,
Come wash away my sins with waters pure:"

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XII, st. 66)

(...) With trembling hands her beaver he untied,
Which done he saw, and seeing, knew her face,
And lost therewith his speech and moving quite,
Oh woful knowledge, ah unhappy sight!

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XII, st. 67)

(...) And while the sacred words the knight recites,
The nymph to heaven with joy herself prepared;
And as her life decays her joys increase,
She smiled and said, "Farewell, I die in peace."

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XII, st. 68)

As violets blue mongst lilies pure men throw,
So paleness midst her native white begun;
Her looks to heaven she cast, their eyes I trow
Downward for pity bent both heaven and sun,
Her naked hand she gave the knight, in show
Of love and peace, her speech, alas, was done,
And thus the virgin fell on endless sleep, --
Love, Beauty, Virtue, for your darling weep!

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XII, st. 69)

Rinaldo and Armida in the magical garden

The painting, present in 1984 at the show "The Civilization of Naples in 600", is the first one of the four paintings–the most valuable of the whole series - devoted to the love of Rinaldo and Armida. The spell that ties the brave warrior to the beautiful sorceress is effectively conveyed through the sensuous languor that pervades the body of Rinaldo. The arboreal scene behind the two protagonists, spied by Charles and Ubaldo, has the function of bringing them into the space of the spectator and to highlight the play of light effecting the plastic construction of the figures.

Literary references:

Her breasts were naked, for the day was hot,
Her locks unbound waved in the wanton wind;
Some deal she sweat, tired with the game you wot,
Her sweat-drops bright, white, round, like pearls of Ind;
Her humid eyes a fiery smile forthshot
That like sunbeams in silver fountains shined,
O'er him her looks she hung, and her soft breast
The pillow was, where he and love took rest.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 18)

His hungry eyes upon her face he fed,
And feeding them so, pined himself away;

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 19)

(...) She, with glad looks, he with inflamed, alas,
Beauty and love beheld, both in one seat;
Yet them in sundry objects each espies,
She, in the glass, he saw them in her eyes.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 20)

Rinaldo in front of the shield of the magician of Ascalona

The reproach of the two warriors to their companion and the disturbance created by the gesture of the rhetorical tone, creates a dialogue through which the theatrical formulation of the painting can be viewed. The painting is a reflection of great refinement.

Literary references:

(...) Ubaldo forward stepped, and to him hield
Of diamonds clear that pure and precious shield.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 29)

Upon the targe his looks amazed he bent,
And therein all his wanton habit spied,
His civet, balm, and perfumes redolent,
How from his locks they smoked and mantle wide,
His sword that many a Pagan stout had shent,
Bewrapped with flowers, hung idly by his side

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 30)

As when, from sleep and idle dreams abraid,
A man awaked calls home his wits again;
So in beholding his attire he played,

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 31)

Armida tries to hold back Rinaldo

The dramatic tension of this episode is also filtered through a composed discourse. Very beautiful and effective is the curling up of the mantle of Armida, whose drapery seems to become animated as if possessing a life of its own.

Literary references:

"Oh thou that leav'st but half behind," quoth she,
"Of my poor heart, and half with thee dost carry,
Oh take this part, or render that to me,
Else kill them both at once, ah tarry, tarry

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 40)

As cunning singers, ere they strain on high,
In loud melodious tunes, their gentle voice,
Prepare the hearers' ears to harmony
With feignings sweet, low notes and warbles choice:
So she, not having yet forgot pardie
Her wonted shifts and sleights in Cupid's toys,
A sequence first of sighs and sobs forthcast,
To breed compassion dear, then spake at last:

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 42)

(...) She said no more, her tears her speeches broke,
Which from her eyes like streams from springs down rained:
She would have caught him by the hand or cloak,
But he stepped backward, and himself restrained,
Conquered his will, his heart ruth softened not,
There plaints no issue, love no entrance got.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 51)

Rinaldo abandons the magical island

Considered the masterpiece of the series, this painting is dominated by the gigantic figure of the helmsman, candidly realistic in feature and rhetorical attitude. The big oar that diagonally cuts the composition is the visualization of a fabulous past, (Armida) now distant, and a present that the man painfully nails to his responsibility.

Literary references:

"Go cruel, go, go with such peace, such rest,
Such joy, such comfort, as thou leavest me here:
My angry soul discharged from this weak breast,
Shall haunt thee ever, and attend thee near,
And fury-like in snakes and firebrands dressed,
Shall aye torment thee, whom it late held dear:
And if thou 'scape the seas, the rocks, and sands
And come to fight among the Pagan bands,

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 59)

"There lying wounded, mongst the hurt and slain,
Of these my wrongs thou shalt the vengeance bear
. (...)

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 60)

(...) Kindness forbade, pity did that withstand;
But hard constraint, alas! did thence him lead;
Away he went, the west wind blew from land
Mongst the rich tresses of their pilot's head,
And with that golden sail the waves she cleft,
To land he looked, till land unseen he left.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVI, st. 62)

Erminia finds a wounded Tancredi

It is the only piece of the series in which there appears a female character that was among the more represented in Neapolitan painting. The hastening of Erminia toward a wounded Tancredi has been studied as a true "entered scene". Her tense arms exactly measure the distance among the first floor and the fund, communicating intensity to th feeling of the role of the hero. Through the tense arm of the character to the shoulders in the foreground, the painter has created a compositional bond among the accenting figures and the dramatic tension of the scene.

Literary references:

"Lift up thine eyes, and in the air behold
The sacred armies, how they mustered be,

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVIII, st. 93)

"Behold the souls of every lord and knight
That late bore arms and died for Christ's dear sake,
How on thy side against this town they fight,
And of thy joy and conquest will partake

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVIII, st. 94)

"But higher lift thy happy eyes, and view
Where all the sacred hosts of Heaven appear."
He looked, and saw where winged armies flew,
Innumerable, pure, divine and clear

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XVIII, st. 96)

His legs could bear him but a little stound,
And more he hastes, more tired, less was his speed,
On his right hand, at last, laid on the ground
He leaned, his hand weak like a shaking reed,
Dazzled his eyes, the world on wheels ran round,
Day wrapped her brightness up in sable weed;
At length he swooned, and the victor knight
Naught differed from his conquered foe in fight.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XIX, st. 28)

(...) Pierced through her heart with sorrow, grief and pine,
At Tancred's name thither she ran with speed,
Like one half mad, or drunk with too much wine,
And when she saw his face, pale, bloodless, dead,
She lighted, nay, she stumbled from her steed

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XIX, st. 104)

Rinaldo kills enemies at random

As in all the happy endings of fables, the good hero goes out victorious from the scene. The threatening presence of the gigantic horses seems to oppress the space, conferring to the scene a dramatic accent, increasing in the foreground to the left by the magnificent mimicry of the character. But the group of figures to the right on the fund, act almost as a " choir ", assisting the scene, accenting the spectacular dimension of it all. Particularly detailed is the armour of Rinaldo.

Literary references:

Thus fought they long, yet neither shrink nor yield,
In equal balance hung their hope and fear:
All full of broken lances lay the field,
All full of arms that cloven and shattered were;
Of swords, some to the body nail the shield,
Some cut men's throats, and some their bellies tear;
Of bodies, some upright, some grovelling lay,
And for themselves eat graves out of the clay.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XX, st. 50)

(...) Rinaldo came, whose fury, haste and ire,
Seemed earthquake, thunder, tempest, storm and fire.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XX, st. 53)

(...) Killed were the Pagans, broke their bows and slings:
Some died, some fell; some yielded, none withstood:
A massacre was this, no fight; these put
Their foes to death, those hold their throats to cut.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XX, st. 56)

(...) Rinaldo hit him on the flank so sore,
That neither art nor herb could help him now;
Down fell the giant strong, one blow such power,
Such puissance had; so falls a thundered tower.

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XX, st. 103)

With horror, fear, amazedness and dread,
Cold were the hearts of all that saw the fray,
And Solyman, that viewed that noble deed,
Trembled, his paleness did his fear bewray;
For in that stroke he did his end areed,
He wist not what to think, to do, to say

(Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, c. XX, st. 104)

Texts: Vito L'Abbate