The crusaders Carlo and Ubaldo have been sent to find their companion Rinaldo who has been bewitched by the sorceress Armida. In this sketch Carlo and Ubaldo, wearing Spanish-type helmets, can be seen on the extreme left, concealed behind a bush. Putti are playing around the two lovers. The subject is from Torquato Tasso's long poem 'Gerusalemme Liberata' (Canto 16: 17-23), published in 1574.
This work is the oil sketch or modello for an engraving (in the same direction) by Pieter de Jode the Younger which is dated 1644 (three years after Van Dyck's death). The reverse of the panel bears the initials of the Antwerp panel maker, Michiel Vriendt (1636/7). The picture dates from the years 1634-5 when Van Dyck was in the Southern Netherlands.
The use of a monochrome grisaille technique is particularly suited to a preparatory work for an engraving. The panel has been squared up by the engraver to facilitate the design's transfer to his engraving plate.