Updated 12 March 2021
Currently not on display
Currently not on display
David with the Head of Goliath
|Materials and Techniques||oil on canvas|
|Size（cm）||120.5 x 102|
|Standard ref.||Salerno 272|
This painting, created in 1650 during the artist's late period, is a superb example of Guercino's work both in terms of its quality and its provenance. This painting is recorded in the 1650 entry in Guercino's studio account book as, roughly translated, "David holding head of Goliath made for Lodovico Fermi." Later, in 1680, the work appears in the Farnese family assets records as part of the collection of Ranuccio Farnese II, then Duke of Parma. Iconographically this composition is extremely rare. Unlike most views of David, boasting of his victory after vanquishing Goliath the giant, here David is shown in a very subdued state, in an introspective moment where he thanks God for his victory. The dark blue used in the background was a color characteristic of Guercino's works at this time, and it was a darkened version of lapis lazuli, a pigment traditionally closely linked to God and heaven. The use of this pigment evokes the internal conundrum of David caused by his spectacular victory. This painting was popular from the time of its creation and there are two extant copies of the work painted by Guercino's students. This is the best example of the Bolognese school during the Italian Baroque era in the NMWA collection. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 21)
Acquired from Guercino on 12 October 1650, by Lodovico Fermi of Piacenza; In the Collection of the Farnese Duke of Parma c. 1680, and subsequently inherited by the Bourbon Kings of the Two Sicilies (Naples); John Udney, Sale Christie's, 25 April 1800, lot 46; Sotheby & Co., 9 November 1927, lot 5; Private Collection, Copenhagen, until 1982; Purchased by the NMWA, 1999.
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