The present picture illustrates Ariosto's romantic epic poem Orlando Furioso. Angelica, who was being courted by the Christian hero Orlando, fell in love with the Moorish Medoro. Together they carved their names on a tree, causing Orlando to fly into a jealous rage.
The Grenoble exhibition catalogue mentions a first version of this composition, now lost? (op. cit., no. 188), with five putti, which was sold in 1777 from the collection of the Prince de Conti, of which a copy is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles, no. 253 in the 1908 catalogue. The latter composition shows several differences to the present picture. Most notable is the inclusion, in the present picture, of the putto hanging from the branch and the tree on the right side of the composition, as well as changes in other minor details which lead Rosenberg and Thuillier, loc. cit., to suggest that the lost picture mentioned above, was a more simple and earlier composition than the present picture, perhaps dating from the years 1638-40.
Perhaps in contrast to the earlier composition, the close attention to the details of nature in the present picture mark the artist's newly growing interest in landscape, which will culminate in his later masterpieces: La Mort des Enfants de Béthel (Arras, Musée Saint-Vaast) and the Paysage aux Baigneuses (Louvre), both of 1653.