The medieval Christian knight Rinaldo has entered the enchanted forest, where monstrous apparitions have prevented his men from gathering wood to build their war-machines. Earlier, his companions had rescued him from the sorceress Armida's garden, and now they in turn require his assistance. Suddenly, hundreds of tree nymphs appear, surrounding Rinaldo, and the sorceress Armida appears from within a large myrtle tree, begging the knight to renew their love. His sword unsheathed, Rinaldo advances to strike the tree, thus overcoming the enchantment and enabling the Crusaders' liberation of Jerusalem to proceed.
Combining themes of chivalric love with tales of Christian heroism, Torquato Tasso's 1581 epic poem , Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), celebrated the First Crusade of 1099 nearly five hundred years after it had taken place. Some seventy years after the famous book was written, the Baroque artist Francesco Maffei applied his energetic brushwork and rich color to enhance the drama of Tasso's Renaissance epic.