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Anthony Van Dyck's Painting: "Rinbaldo And Armida"

1219 words - 5 pages

Inspired by the sensuous words of contemporary literature in the 16th century, Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) produced an inspiring and powerful painting that illustrates the wonderful epic of Rinaldo and Armida. Based on Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Libertata, Van Dyck has managed to capture vividly not the primary theme of war in the story, but the account of two characters and their love for one another. Rinaldo and Armida is a rich and vibrant interpretation of a literary epic poem that illustrates mythic characters and expresses their spiritual beauty and ideal love.Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish artist who migrated to England in 1632 to work for King Charles I who commissioned the majority of his later works. His early work dealt with a great study of the masters such as Rubens and Titian. He completed Rinaldo and Armida in 1629 were he expressed the reoccurring theme of love from most of his religious paintings. The scene that is seen takes place on an island in the Orontes River. Ronaldo, the Prince of the House of Estee and a warrior on his way to Jerusalem is seduced there by a water nymph and with her "seductive words, golden tresses, and sensuous appearance," he is lured to sleep. This was apparently a planned ambush to murder him by the forces of the underworld with which Armida, niece of the King of Damascus, is in an alliance with. This ambush is to prevent him from ever reaching Jerusalem. As soon as she sees him sleeping peacefully and with the help of Cupid she falls in love and forgets he is the enemy.A great, vibrant palette, resembling Titian's, enriches the painting. The most prominent of all is the detailed drapery that is intensely blowing in the center of the painting. It is a crimson red that is a strong symbol of love. "The tenderness of her expression as she gently envelops Rinaldo is evidence enough of her feelings, but her inner passion is also suggested by the turbulence of her robes." The sheet of music held by the nymph below could perhaps be a reference to the poem or to enhance the romantic setting. It could also be the music with which the nymph managed to capture Rinaldo and put him to sleep. The cherubs that are all around are yet another symbol of Cupid or love. Perhaps the most expressive element of the entire composition that shows the theme of love is in Armida's facial expression. It is a sensual, soft and caring face that is deeply in love and does not perceive him as an enemy. Van Dyck was mostly renown for his great ability to paint portraiture and that is quite evident in Armida's face due to the fact that he has managed to capture so much fervor.The theme of love was the primary element that Van Dyck chose to paint from Tasso's work, which proves his fondness of the theme of love. Also, during that period this story had a great influence in the seventeenth century "because its Christian gloss made it particularly relevant to a period not only beset by religious wars but also fascinated with Christian...

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