(Florence, 1646–1712)



David with the Head of Goliath



Oil on canvas


50 x 37 inches

(128.3 x 96 cm)


Private Collection, Santa Fe, NM


The figure of David was, as is well known, particularly popular in the city of Florence during the Renaissance period.  Numerous paintings depicting the young David are known, from small to large format and, it goes without saying, public sculpture celebrated the victorious youth in a magnificent way, with works by Donatello, Verrocchio, and most famously, Michelangelo.  For the Florentines David was a profoundly symbolic figure, representing a host of political virtues: an emblem of divinely sanctioned government, independence against oppression, defiance against attack, and civicharmony.


The present painting represents a continuation of that association into the seventeenth century.  Here David appears partially clothed, unlike his heroic marble ancestor, wrapped in a blue cloak as he looks off to the right with a look of wonder and perhaps consternation.  He holds up the decapitated head of Goliath with his right hand, grasping the top of his hair, while in his left hand can be seen the slingshot with which he killed the giant.  Goliath’s head is pallid gray, contrasting with the flushed skin color of the young hero.


Pier Dandini hailed from a celebrated family of Florentine painters, being the nephew of Cesare and Vincenzo Dandini.  His dramatic figure style derives not alone from his training in the studio of Vincenzo, but as a result of his experience with contemporary Venetian painting in the 1660s.  Dandini was well patronized in Florence, executing both private and ecclesiastic commissions.  He worked as well on several projects for the Medici, including frescoes in the Medici Villa at Petraia. 


The attribution of the present painting to Pier Dandini was made by Dott.ssa Francesca Baldassari upon first-hand inspection (January 2016).