David Cutting Off the Head of Goliath (after Giulio Romano)
mid 16th century
14 3/8 in. x 18 5/16 in. (36.5 cm x 46.5 cm)
Medium and Support
engraving on paper
Gift of Judith Keenan
Mannerist artists in Italy and northern Europe reveled in scenes of violent conflict, often pitting young or beautiful victors over brutish antagonists. In Scultori’s interpretation of Giulio Romano’s fresco in Mantua, the young hero David draws his arm back to behead his fallen enemy, the giant Philistine Goliath, whom he has subdued with his sling and stone. In this representation of the Biblical narrative, the hero straddles the armored body of his grotesquely contorted foe, brandishing his enemy’s own massive sword. It reveals a moment preceding the more famous representation of David holding Goliath’s severed head. Goliath’s ornate helmet at right is engraved with a lion entangled in curling vines and a thunderbolt. Such ornate touches, copied from antique sculpture, contrast jarringly with the uglified face and awkwardly sprawling body of the defeated enemy.
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