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David with the Head of Goliath


Artist

Merisi Michelangelo called Caravaggio
(Milan 1571 - Porto Ercole 1610)

Type

painting

Period

'600

Inventory

455

Technique

oil on canvas, cm 125x101

The painting was in the Borghese collection from 1610. It was executed during the artist’s last sojourn in Naples and sent to Cardinal Scipione Borghese in an effort to win his benevolence; the work was on board the ship in which Caravaggio made his final, desperate journey. In representing this famous biblical episode, Caravaggio portrayed himself in the head of Goliath. By identifying with him, the painter was perhaps invoking God’s grace, a privilege granted to sinners. To depict David, shown as a young man experiencing with sadness the victory he had obtained at the price of a death, Caravaggio used the same model as the one that posed for Saint John the Baptist, also in the Borghese collection.