Erminia and the Shepherds
Guillaume Lethière ( French, 1760 - 1832 )
This scene is drawn from Jerusalem Delivered (1581), an epic poem about the Crusades written by the Italian Renaissance author Torquato Tasso. In one of the poem’s romantic subplots, Tasso recounts the tale of the Muslim princess Erminia, who journeys to find the knight she loves. Here Guillaume Lethière depicts the moment when Erminia approaches the home of an old shepherd and his family. Initially frightened by the armored warrior, the group is astonished when Erminia removes her helmet and reveals her youth and beauty.
Lethière was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe to a Caucasian government official and an emancipated slave. At the age of fourteen, he was brought to France by his father to begin his artistic studies. He excelled and went on to have a successful career as a Neoclassical painter and teacher, leading the French Academy in Rome and, in 1818, receiving the French Legion of Honor.
Nicole Myers, DMA label copy, 2017.