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The J. Paul Getty Museum

Clorinda Rescuing Sofronia and Olindo Gm-00056101

Clorinda Rescuing Sofronia and Olindo Gm-00056101

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Mattia Preti (Italian, 1613–1699) In a plumed helmet, the Persian warrior-maiden Clorinda arrives on her white horse to save the lovers Sofronia and Olindo, who are about to be burned at the stake. The subject comes from one of the most popular books of its time, Torquato Tasso's epic about the First Crusade. When Aladine, the king of Jerusalem, threatened to execute the whole Christian community for the theft of a sacred image, Sofronia took the responsibility on herself to save the others. Her beloved Olindo then claimed to be the thief to save her, but Aladine condemned them both. Impressed by the young couple's courage, Clorinda saved them from the fire by offering to fight for the king in the coming battle with the Crusaders.

All eyes are riveted on Clorinda, whose leaning posture and pointing gesture lead diagonally up to the figures of Sofronia and Olindo. Figures press close to the picture plane against a turbulent black, yellow, and orange streaked sky. Mattia Preti used strong chiaroscuro to contrast the partially illuminated, startled faces of the crowd with the determination of Clorinda's shadowed profile. Sofronia and Olindo are brightly lit, perhaps indicating the nearness of the fire.

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