Landscape with Erminia

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, Chamagne 1604/5?–1682 Rome)

ca. 1647
Oil on wood
13 x 18 1/8 in. (33 x 46 cm)
Credit Line:
Thaw Collection, Jointly Owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Eugene V. Thaw, 2013
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This small and delicate painting depicts an episode from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), first published in 1581. The pagan warrior Erminia, in love with the Christian Tancred, writes his name on a tree in the forest as a sign of her love for him. This was a common subject in seventeenth-century Italian paintings and demonstrates the fortune of Tasso’s poem at the time.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    Robert L. Manning, New York (bought from a New York art dealer; by 1967–at least 1977); Eugene V. Thaw, New York (by 1983)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. Finch College Museum of Art. "Vouet to Rigaud: French Masters of the Seventeenth Century," April 20–June 18, 1967, no. 25 (as "Landscape with Erminia as a Shepherdess Carving the Name of Tancredi in the Bark of a Tree," by Claude, lent by the Manning collection).

    Haus der Kunst München. "Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten," March 12–May 29, 1983, no. 17 (as "Landschaft mit Herminia," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Victor Thaw, New York).

    Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art. "Claude Lorrain and the Ideal Landscape," September 15–December 6, 1998, no. 47 (lent by a private collection).

  • References

    Vouet to Rigaud: French Masters of the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat., Finch College Museum of Art. New York, 1967, unpaginated, no. 25, ill., attributes it to Claude and identifies the subject as Erminia; lists seals, labels, and inscriptions appearing on the back; notes that since traces of drawing are visible, the work is probably either unfinished or is a sketch or a study for a larger composition.

    Marcel Röthlisberger. "De Bril à Claude: tableaux inédits." Revue de l'art no. 5 (1969), pp. 59–60, fig. 1 (color), erroneously as on canvas; believes the subject is Œnone rather than Erminia; dates it close to Claude's "Paris and Œnone at the foot of a Tree" (Musée du Louvre, Paris) of 1648.

    Doretta Cecchi in L'opera completa di Claude Lorrain. Milan, 1975, p. 106, no. 159, ill., as "Paesaggio con Enone," erroneously as tempera on wood; dates it 1645 or later; notes the influence of Agostino Tassi (1578–1644).

    Teresa Pugliatti. Agostino Tassi: tra conformismo e libertà. Rome, 1977, pp. 123–28, fig. 171, attributes it to Agostino Tassi and identifies the subject as Erminia and the shepherds, relating it to two works by Tassi of that subject: a drawing in the Gabinetto dei Disegni e Stampe, Uffizi, Florence, and a fresco in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome; dates it 1632–35.

    Marco Chiarini. "Agostino Tassi: Some New Attributions." Burlington Magazine 121 (October 1979), p. 617, attributes it to Tassi, relating it to the drawing in the Uffizi and to another drawing by Tassi of "Diana Hunting" (fig. 18; Steiner collection, Cambridge, Mass.).

    Marcel Röthlisberger. Claude Lorrain: The Paintings. reissue [published 1961]. New York, 1979, vol. 1, unpaginated section preceding p. 1, includes it among "Further Paintings by Claude Discovered after 1961" as "Landscape with Oenone," about 1645.

    Marcel Roethlisberger. Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst München. Munich, 1983, pp. 80–81, no. 17, ill., retains his attribution to Claude, but accepts the identification of the subject as Erminia.

    Marcel Roethlisberg[er]. "New Works by Tassi, Claude, and Desiderii." Apollo, n.s., 120 (August 1984), p. 95.

    Patrizia Cavazzini. Palazzo Lancellotti ai Coronari: cantiere di Agostino Tassi. Rome, 1998, pp. 104, 140, supports the attribution to Tassi.

    Patrizia Cavazzini in Agostino Tassi (1578–1644): un paesaggista tra immaginario e realtà. Exh. cat., Palazzo di Venezia. Rome, 2008, pp. 66, 93 n. 160, fig. 74.

    Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. New York, 2011, p. 133, no. 95, ill. (color), as by Claude.

    Richard Rand. "'Landscape with Erminia' and Claude's Paintings from Nature." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. New York, 2011, pp. 45–50, 56, 61 nn. 2, 6, p. 62 nn. 10–11, fig. 36 (color), discusses the anomalies of the picture within Claude's oeuvre, and its possible function; believes that it might be unfinished, but does not see it as a study for a larger work or as an open-air sketch made in front of the motif.

  • Notes

    The story of Erminia is recounted in "Jerusalem Delivered," Torquato Tasso's epic poem of the First Crusade published in 1581.

    "On the back are an unidentified collector's seal, two early inventory numbers: 20651 and 951., and also a seventeenth century label with the name Claude and the number 38." (New York 1967)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History