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David with the Head of Goliath

Jacopo del Sellaio (Jacopo di Archangelo), Italian (active Florence), 1441/42 - 1493, and Argonaut Master, Italian (active Florence), active c. 1450 - c. 1475.

Made in Florence, Italy, Europe

Mid- 1470s

Tempera and gold on panel

23 x 15 1/4 inches (58.4 x 38.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 309, European Art 1100-1500, third floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 51

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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In the 1400s, the Old Testament David was a particularly significant figure for the citizens of Florence, Italy, who identified the independence of their republican government with the young hero David defeating the tyrant Goliath. Sellaio’s painting appears to be partially inspired by a bronze statue of David made by Andrea del Verrocchio (Italian, 1435–1488) for the Medici family.

Another statue of David by the sculptor Donatello, housed in Florence’s city hall, had an inscription praising those who fight bravely for the fatherland, and small-scale paintings like this one by Sellaio would have been viewed in similarly patriotic terms.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.