The god Apollo pursued the nymph Daphne. She prayed for rescue and was turned into a laurel tree as he touched her. The story appears in the 'Metamorphoses' of the classical Roman poet Ovid. Such pagan fables were popular subjects for the decoration of furniture in Florence.
The landscape, like that in the altarpiece of the 'Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian', is based on the Arno valley near Florence, and is likely to date from the same period.