Tancred, a Christian warrior, lies wounded after slaying the giant Argantes, shown to the right. Tancred is helped by his squire and by Erminia, a Saracen princess, in love with the Christian knight. She cuts off her hair to bind his wounds. The putti in the dark sky illuminate the warrior, who will be restored to life and eventually united with Erminia.
Poussin took the subject from Tasso’s epic poem Jerusalem Delivered (1581) which describes the First Crusade (1096-99). The French painter shows the figures in classical dress, in keeping with his antique style, if not the events.
Notes: Exhibited: British Institution, 1816, no. 111; 'French Painting of the XVIIth century', Wildenstein Gallery, London, UK, 1947, no. 38; 'Nicholas Poussin', Louvre, Paris, France, 1960, no. 53; 'Poussin, Sacraments and Bacchanals', National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK, 16 November 1981 - 13 December 1981, no. 14; 'Nicolas Poussin, 'Tancred and Erminia'', Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK, 14 October 1992 - 03 January 1993, no. 7; 'Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665', Grand Palais, Paris, France, 27 September 1994 - 02 January 1995, no. 49; 'Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665', Royal Academy, London, UK, 19 January 1995 - 09 April 1995, no. 26; 'Birth of a Collection: Treasures from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts', National Gallery, London, UK, 22 May 2013 - 01 Septemer 2013