David with the Head of Goliath

Object Details

Title:

David with the Head of Goliath

Artist/Maker(s):

Pietro Novelli (Italian (Sicilian), 1603 - 1647)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1630s

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

129.5 x 102.2 cm (51 x 40 1/4 in.)

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A muscular young man with a strong profile, who looks fully destined to kill a giant and to reign as Israel's king, this David is no innocent boy with a slingshot. Carelessly cradling Goliath's huge, severed head with one arm and his oversize sword in the other, he gazes off into the future.

Pietro Novelli set David against a blank background, pushed his three-quarter-length body up close to the picture plane, and portrayed him as a common man rather than a patrician, following Caravaggio's famous examples. He followed Jusepe de Ribera in using a dark palette, portraying David as an individual rather than a generic common man, and emphasizing the ghastliness of Goliath's head. Novelli probably painted this picture during his time in Naples, where these dramatic contrasts of light and shade were typical.

Provenance
1890s -

Private Collection (Ireland)

- 1972

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 12, 1972, lot 118, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Exhibitions
Pietro Novelli e il Suo Ambiente / Pietro Novelli and His Surroundings (May 26, 1990 to January 22, 1991)
  • Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, (Palermo), May 26, 1990 to January 22, 1991, (Cat. II.38)
Bibliography

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 92, ill.