David with the head of Goliath

(1610; Rome, Galleria Borghese)
   This is one of Caravaggio's last works. The head of Goliath is a self-portrait, and some have suggested that the young David portrays the artist as well, but in his youth. It is an unusual depiction of the subject in that it lacks the heroic qualities of the David figures by Donatello (c. 1446-1460), Andrea del Verrocchio (1470s; both Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello), or Michelangelo (1501— 1504; Florence, Accademia). Instead, the shepherd boy is here shown with a pensive, sad expression that may reflect the artist's mood from repeatedly running from the law. The figures are set against a dark background and pushed to the foreground so as to emphasize the horror of the event. The viewer is repulsed by the bleeding head of Goliath and at the same time awestruck by the scene's psychological depth.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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