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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Rinaldo turning in Shame from the Magic Shield

Key facts
Full title Rinaldo turning in Shame from the Magic Shield
Artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Artist dates 1696 - 1770
Series Four Decorative Scenes
Date made about 1740-6
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 161.3 × 53.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1960
Inventory number NG6303
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Rinaldo turning in Shame from the Magic Shield
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

This painting shows Rinaldo, a Christian knight who has been enchanted by the Saracen sorceress Armida. He turns away from his own reflection in a magic shield that has been given to him by one of his companions to break the spell. Rinaldo later gives up his love for Armida and escapes.

The scene is taken from an episode in Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, a sixteenth-century epic poem about the First Crusade, a Christian military campaign to recapture Jerusalem from Islamic rule. Rinaldo’s clothing and armour are inspired by the Classical world: the scallop shell at his waist was, in antiquity, the attribute of Venus, the goddess of love.

Painted during the 1740s, at the height of Tiepolo’s career, this is one of four pictures in a series that once decorated a room in the Palazzo Cornaro on the Campo San Polo, Venice. The other paintings, also in the National Gallery’s collection, depict figures inspired by Tasso’s poem.

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Four Decorative Scenes


These four narrow canvases were painted during the 1740s by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to decorate a room on the second floor of the Palazzo Cornaro on the Campo San Polo, Venice. Tiepolo was enjoying growing fame across Italy at this time; receiving important commissions for large ceiling paintings and wall decorations.

The paintings formed part of a complex decorative scheme, with which a ceiling painting (now in Canberra) and four allegorical figures (now divided between New York and Amsterdam), have been associated. Tiepolo’s four paintings in the National Gallery – Rinaldo turning in Shame from the Magic Shield, Seated Man, Woman with Jar and Boy, Two Standing Figures and Two Men seated under a Tree – are inspired by Torquato Tasso’s popular sixteenth-century poem Jerusalem Delivered. Set during the First Crusade, a Christian military campaign to recapture Jerusalem from Islamic rule, the poem tells of the ill-fated love between the Saracen sorceress Armida and Rinaldo, a Christian knight. Tiepolo’s pale pastel tones and lively brushwork in these scenes create a dazzling atmosphere that evokes the poem’s setting.