POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)

Rinaldo and Armida

c. 1625
Oil on canvas, 80 x 107 cm
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

The theme is taken from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"). Armida is the enchantress who holds Rinaldo under her spell in a magical palace that is an illusion. Without him, affairs are going badly for the crusaders. The pastoral idyll, Armida's hate for the crusaders turned to love for one Crusader, and the call of duty that leaves Armida abandoned, all appealed to Baroque and Rococo artists. George Frideric Handel composed an opera using a libretto written by Giacomo Rossi, based on episodes of Gerusalemme liberata.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Two arias, Rinaldo, Acts II and III