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Godfrey of Boulogne Summons His Chiefs to Council, c. 1755

Francesco Guardi
Italian, 1712-1793
Oil on canvas
98-1/2 x 43-1/4 in. (250.2 x 109.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1976.17.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Franceso Guardi’s vivid brushwork imparts an atmospheric quality to this painting inspired by the epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (“Jerusalem Delivered”). Written by Torquato Tasso, and published in 1581, the poem was loosely based on the First Crusade. Its many romantic and magical episodes were deeply stimulating to artists. Guardi combined two sequential moments here: we see God’s messenger, the angel Gabriel, returning to heaven having delivered the news to Godfrey that he has been chosen to lead this First Crusade. In response, Godfrey delivers an impassioned speech to rouse the knights in their campaign. The painting formed part of an ambitious series of eight canvases whose narratives derived from Gerusalemme Liberata, and this may account for the tall, narrow format that Guardi selected for the composition.

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