The National Museum of Western Art

update 24 December 2021

Currently not on display

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) [Cento, 1591 - Bologna, 1666]

David with the Head of Goliath

Datec. 1650
Materials/Techniquesoil on canvas
Size (cm)120.5 x 102
Credit LinePurchased
Standard ref.Salerno 272
CategoryPaintings
Collection NumberP.1998-0001
David with the Head of Goliath

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)

Provenance

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.

Exhibition History

1983
, Trafalgar Galleries at the Royal Academy III, London, 1983 - 1983, no. 6
1991
Guercino in Britain: paintings from British collections, The National Gallery, London, 28 June 1991 - 31 July 1991, no. 26 (entry by Michael Helston and Denis Mahon)
1991
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino, 1591-1966, Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna, 6 September 1991 - 10 November 1991, no. 128 (entry by Denis Mahon)
1991
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino, 1591-1966, Schirn-Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 3 December 1991 - 9 February 1992, no. 69
1993
, Trafalgar Galleries: XII, London, 23 November 1993 - 10 December 1993, no. 6
1995
I Farnese: arte e Collezionismo, Palazzo Ducale di Colorno, Parma, 4 March 1995 - 21 May 1995, Galleria nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, 30 September – 17 December 1995; Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1 June – 27 August, 1995, no. 110 (entry by S. Loire)
2000
Tanka at the National Museum of Western Art: An Encounter between Poet and Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 25 July 2000 - 29 October 2000, cat. no. 10
2007
Parma: Italian Arts from Another Capital City, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 29 May 2007 - 26 August 2007, V-19
2009
Tears of Eros, Casa de las Alhajas, Fundacion Caja Madrid, 20 October 2009 - 31 January 2010
2014
Voices Calling from the Unusual: Hirano Keiichiro's Selection of Western Art Masterpieces, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 8 April 2014 - 15 June 2014, cat. no. 22
2015
Guercino, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 3 March 2015 - 31 May 2015, cat. no. 42
2015
NO MUSEUM, NO LIFE?: Art-Museum Encyclopedia to Come: From the Collections of the National Museums of Art, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 16 June 2015 - 13 September 2015, cat. no. L-1
2016
Caravaggio and His Time: Friends, Rivals and Enemies, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 1 March 2016 - 12 June 2016, cat. no. 39

Bibliography

1678
Malvasia, C. C. Felsina Pittrice, Vite de'Pittori Bolognesi. Bologna, 1678, p. 378.
1808
Calvi, J. A. Notizie della vita e delle opere del cavaliere Gio. Francesco Barbieri detto Il Guercino da Cento. Bologna, 1808, p. 125.
1841
Marvasia, C. C. Felsina Pittrice, Vite de'Pittori Bolognesi. Zanotti ed., vol. 2, Bologna, 1841, p. 331.
1870
Campori, G. Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventari inediti. Modena, 1870, p. 239.
1983
Trafalgar Galleries at the Royal Academy III (exh. cat.). R. Cohen, ed. Trafalgar galleries, London, 1983, pp. 16-19, no. 6
1987
Bertini, G. La Galleria del Duca di Parma. Storia di una Collezione. Bologna, 1987, p. 249, no. 303.
1988
Salerno, L. I dipinti del Guercino. Rome, 1988, no. 272.
1991
Stone, D. M. Guercino. Il catalogo completo. Florence, 1991, no. 259.
1991
Giovannni Francesco Barbieri (exh. cat.). D. Mahon, ed. Bologna; Cento; Frankfurt am Main, Bologna, 1991, pp. 334-335, no. 128.
1991
Guercino in Britain: Paintings from British Collections (exh. cat.). M. Helston; T. Henry, eds. The National Gallery, London, 28 June - 31 July 1991. London, 1991, pp. 56-57, no. 26.
1995
I Farnese: arte e collezionismo (exh. cat.). Loire Fornari Schianchi; N. Spinosa, eds. Palazzo Ducale di Colorno, Parma, 4 March-21 May 1995; Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Napoli, 30 September-17 December 1995; Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1 June 1-27 Augst 1995. Milano, Electa, 1995, pp. 314-317, no. 110.
1997
Ghelfi, B.; Mahon, D. Il libro dei conti del Guercino 1629-1666. Bologna, 1997 , p. 149, no. 430.
2000
Annual Bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. No. 33 (April 1998-March 1999), 2000, Koshikawa, Michiaki. New Acquisitions. pp. 9-11, List of New Acquisitions. p. 48, col. repr.
2006
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2006 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 21, col. repr.
2007
Parma: grazia e affetti, natura e artificio. Protagonisti dell'arte da Correggio a Lanfranco (exh. cat.). Takanashi, Mitsumasa; Fornari Schianchi, Lucia, eds. The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 29 May-26 August 2007. Tokyo, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2007, pp. 266-267, no. V-19, Italian ed., p. 98.
2009
Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. N. Sato; A. Shinfuji eds. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2009, p. 29, no. 21.
2013
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 36, col. repr.

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