Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David

Object Details


Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David


Aert de Gelder (Dutch, 1645 - 1727)




about 1680s


Oil on canvas


91.8 x 132.4 cm (36 1/8 x 52 1/8 in.)

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The painting's subject comes from the Old Testament: the first book of Samuel, which describes the turning point in David's relationship with King Saul. The priest Ahimelech gives the sword of Goliath to the young David, who won it in battle. When King Saul learned that this symbol of power had been given to David, he had Ahimelech murdered.

The sleeve and headdress of the priest Ahimelech reveal scratches and uneven working of the pigment so it catches the light in vivid contrasting highlights. Aert de Gelder made these scratches with a paint knife or the end of a brush, which he often used to highlight the paint surface. De Gelder was a pupil of Rembrandt, and the influence of Rembrandt's late style is evident in his choice of half-length, life-size figures, muted colors, and expressive brushstrokes.

in late 1700s -

Private Collection (Dordrecht, The Netherlands)

by 1942 - 1960

Mrs. Andrew R. Motion, died by 1960 [unsold, Christie's, London, June 19, 1942, lot 20; sold, Motion sale, Sotheby's, London, March 23, 1960, lot 139, through Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd. (London, England), to J. Paul Getty.]

1960 - 1976

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1976 - 1978

Estate of J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, distributed to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978.

The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972) (30)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972
The Visible World: Painting During the Golden Age in Dordrecht (November 29, 1992 to February 28, 1993) (39)
  • Dordrechts Museum, (Dordrecht), November 29, 1992 to February 28, 1993
The Glory of the Golden Age (April 15 to September 17, 2000) (149)
  • Rijksmuseum, (Amsterdam), April 15 to September 17, 2000
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