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David with the Head of Goliath

Valentin de Boulogne French

Not on view

The shepherd boy David thrusts down the severed head of the Philistine giant Goliath after having slayed him with his slingshot. The conflicted expression on David’s face, the almost tender depiction of Goliath’s bleeding head, and the contrasting reactions of the two other men make this picture deeply disturbing—a kind of meditation on death. An arresting masterpiece, the work encapsulates the ideas behind Valentin’s art: confrontation; the implication of the viewer; a dramatic presentation, with the figures provocatively close to the picture plane; and richly layered psychological suggestions.

David with the Head of Goliath, Valentin de Boulogne (French, Coulommiers-en-Brie 1591–1632 Rome), Oil on canvas

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