The subject of this picture is from the biblical book of Judges. Samson, his hair having been shorn, is set upon by the Philistines who bind him and blind him, aided by his lover, the deceitful Delilah. The focus of this dramatic and immensely inventive composition is the vigorously modeled back of Samson. Guercino received several commissions from Cardinal Giacomo Serra, the papal legate to Ferrara. These included a Saint Sebastian (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna), a Prodigal Son (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), and this Samson. Serra was a notable collector in Rome and also patronized Rubens.