This tapestry belongs to a series entitled Fragments d'Opra which was designed by Charles-Antoine Coypel (d. 1752) in circa 1733. Coypel was mainly a genre painter and on his father's death in 1722 he succeeded him as directeur des tableaux de la couronne et premier peintre de duc d'Orlans and became premier peintre du roi and directeur de l'Acadmie in 1747.
The first completed cartoon for this series was Roland which was painted in 1733 and exhibited in the salon of 1737. The second panel which is the subject of this tapestry was L'Evanouissement d'Armide for which Coypel received 4,000 livres in 1734. There appear to have been eight panels designed by Coypel for the set, although only four were ever executed. The first weaving which only ever comprised the first two panels started probably in 1734 in the atelier of Jean Le Febvre (d. 1736) and was continued by Mathieu Monmerqu (d. 1749) on his death. Both panels were completed by 1737, but do not appear to have left the magasin as they are still listed in the inventory of it on 1 January 1766. It was only on 26 December 1776 that the Garde Meuble de la Couronne asked for the the L'Evanouissement d'Armide:
M. Sufflot fera sortir de la Manufacture royale des Gobelins et dlivera au Garde-meuble de la Couronne pour le service de Madame Adlaide en son chteau de Belleve:
Une pice de tapisserie ayant en quarr neuf aunes quinze batons quatre seize et reprsentant l'Evanouissement d'Armide
A letter from the Garde-Meuble further explains:
La pice de l'Evanouissement d'Armide, fait en 1737 par feu M. Monmerqu, sur 4 a. 5 de cours et de Hr. 3a. 3, se trouve beaucoup trop haute pour le besoin qu'on en a M. de Pommery dcide qu'elle lui soit livre sans bordure, pour le salon de Madame Adlaide Bellevue, la bordure devant servire une nouvelle pice.
This second letter indicates that the borders of this tapestry were most probably removed in 1776 to fit their purpose at the chteau de Bellevue. It remained in the chteau at least until 1793. The chteau had been built for Mme de Pompadour in 1748 from whom Louis XV purchased it in 1757. Victoire, Adelaide and Sophie, his daughters, acquired the castle from their uncle Louis XVI in 1776.
In 1900 this tapestry is listed in the collections of the Ville de Paris without its borders.
There are seven weavings of this series recoded, the second, completed in 1750, was deliverd to the Duc de Grimaldi, ambassador of Spain, the third, completed in 1754, was delivered to Louis XV for Versailles, the fourth, completed in 1772, was probably given to the duc de Vrillire by the King, the fifth, woven over several years and completed in 1791, was purchased after the Revolution by the dealer Chapeau-Rouge of Hamburg and the Polish merchant Sr Labenski, the sixth, completed in 1791, was partially delivered to the chteu de Compigne, while the last, a special order, was made for M. de Beaujon and M. Marquet de Peyre in 1768. It is most probable that this tapestry belongs to the first set woven, because the reduced size of it, corresponds quite closely to that of the inventories in 1900 (M. Fenaille. Etat Gnral des Tapisseries de La Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1904, pp. 323-343).
The story of Rinaldo and Armida forms part of the epic poem Jerusalem Delivered by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), first published in 1581. The poem relays the various crusades undertaken by the Christians against the Muslims to regain the grave of Christ and ends with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099 and the establishment of a Christian kingdom. Armida, a beautiful virgin witch, had been sent by satan (whose aid the Muslims had enlisted) to bring about the Crusaders' undoing by sorcery. She sought revenge on the Christian prince Rinaldo after he had rescued his compagnions whom she had changed into monsters. When they saw each other, however, they fell in love. The scene here depicted shows Rinaldo's departure when he was recalled to duty by his companions-in-arms. She swoons when she realises that he will leave.