The painting Rinaldo and Armida by Van Dyck depicts a theme from Torquato Tasso's poem Gerusalemme liberata, written in Ferrara at the court of Duke Alfonso II d'Este and published in its first complete edition in 1581. Paintings inspired by this work had already appeared by the end of the century, but it was in the 17th century that they became common. The various phases of the meeting between Rinaldo and Armida were among the themes most often represented. Van Dyck, who painted this picture between 1630 and 1631, had already executed another depicting an earlier moment in the story of the two lovers.
This painting canvas is inspired by strophes 17 and 20 of the 16th canto and represents the arrival of Carlo and Ubaldo - on the left, almost completely hidden by the fronds - charged with freeing Rinaldo. The hero, captivated by the enchantress Armida, is lost in contemplation of his beloved, who, for her part, is admiring her own reflection in a mirror.
By 1632 the oil painting was already in the collection of the governor of the United Provinces, Prince Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau. A lover of the pastoral themes dear to the Italian poets of the 16th century, he was the owner, and perhaps also the client, of two more paintings executed by van Dyck at this time, based on the verses of Giovanni Battista Guarini's Il pastor fido.
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