In 628–29 the Byzantine emperor Herakleios (r. 610–41) successfully ended a long, costly war with Persia and regained Jerusalem, Egypt, and other Byzantine territory. Silver stamps dating to 613–29/30 on the reverse of these masterpieces place their manufacture in Herakleios’s reign. The biblical figures on the plates wear the costume of the early Byzantine court, suggesting to the viewer that, like Saul and David, the Byzantine emperor was a ruler chosen by God. Elaborate dishes used for display at banquets were common in the late Roman and early Byzantine world; generally decorated with classical themes, these objects conveyed wealth, social status, and learning. This set of silver plates may be the earliest surviving example of the use of biblical scenes for such displays. Their intended arrangement may have closely followed the biblical order of the events, and their display may have conformed to the shape of a Christogram, or monogram for the name of Christ.
The prophet Samuel, recognizing David as God’s chosen one, anoints him (1 Samuel 16:13). David’s father, Jesse, and two of his brothers watch. The calf, knife, and altar below Samuel refer to the sacrifice he was supposed to offer in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1–3); the ram and staff below David signify his role as keeper of his family’s flock (1 Samuel 16:11).
Cyprus Treasure, found at Karavas, Cyprus, 1902; [ C. & E. Canessa, Paris (sold 1906)]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1913–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Middle Ages: Treasures from The Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18, 1970–March 29, 1970.
Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago. "The Middle Ages: Treasures from The Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 16, 1970–July 5, 1970.
Forth Worth, TX. Kimbell Art Museum. "Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art," November 18, 2007–March 30, 2008.
Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. no. 412, pp. 89–90, pl. LIII.
Weitzmann, Kurt. "Byzantine Art and Scholarship in America." American Journal of Archaeology, 2nd series, 51, no. 4 (1947). pp. 397, 404, pl. CVI.
Rorimer, James J. "The Authenticity of the Chalice of Antioch." In Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, edited by Dorothy Miner. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954. pp. 162–63, 164.
Bainton, Roland Herbert. The Horizon History of Christianity. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1964. p. 15.
Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages: Treasures from the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969. no. 21, pp. 52-3, 253.
Hoving, Thomas. "Director's Choice." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 28, no. 5 (January 1970). pp. 24-25.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton Publishing, 1970. no. 113, p. 149.
Beeson, Nora B., ed. Guide to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. no. 15, p. 212.
Wander, Steven H. "The Cyprus Plates: The Story of David and Goliath." Metropolitan Museum Journal 8 (1973). pp. 89-104, fig. 4, 10.
Alexander, Suzanne Spain. "Heraclius, Byzantine Imperial Ideology, and the David Plates." Speculum 52, no. 2 (April 1977). pp. 217–37.
Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 425, pp. 475-483.
Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York, de Ramsès à Picasso. Paris: Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, 1981. no. 58, p. 62.
Dresken-Weiland, Jutta. Reliefierte Tischplatten aus theodosianischer Zeit. Vatican City: Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, 1991. pp. 136–37.
Norris, Michael. A Masterwork of Byzantine Art : The David Plates ; The Story of David and Goliath. Closer look. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. p. 9.
Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th–9th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.
Wander, Steven H. The Joshua Roll. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012. pp. 134–36, 140, fig. 29.
Humphrey, Lyle. "Collecting Christianity on the Nile: J. Pierpont Morgan and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Age of Transition: Byzantine Culture in the Islamic World, edited by Helen C. Evans. New York: Yale University Press, 2015. p. 3, fig. 2.