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Artist: Rubens, Peter Paul 1 of 8 Previous Previous | Next Next

David Slaying Goliath, c. 1616

Peter Paul Rubens

Flemish, 1577-1640
Oil on canvas
48-3/8 x 39 in. (122.9 x 99.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.05.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Rubens chose to depict the moment when David, having felled the giant and taken possession of his sword, is about to sever the head of his adversary. The two monumental figures occupy nearly the entire painting, with only a fragment of the battle in the background. A strong circular motion (which will be completed with the impending swing of the sword) animates the composition and increases the tension of the drama. The attacking form of David and the prone Goliath are balanced against one another in a wonderfully calculated equilibrium. The background landscape extends into the vast distance, which is emphasized by the low line of the horizon. As a result, the dramatic foreground action is almost completely silhouetted against the sky, and is relieved and balanced only by the variation of color.

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Artist: Rubens, Peter Paul 1 of 8 Previous Previous | Next Next