David with the Head of Goliath
c. 1610
North Italian, perhaps Genoese (Italian, 17th century)
On View

A youthful David stands over the remains of the defeated Philistine Goliath. The giant’s forehead bears the wound inflicted by the stone from David’s slingshot. The young hero holds the hilt of his enemy’s sword over the severed head. Gazing heavenward, towards the source of his strength and victory, David contemplates this fateful occasion in which good has triumphed over evil. The sheep’s-wool lining of his reddish jerkin, and the
wool-covered pouch suspended from his belt, which held his stones, remind us of David’s origins as a shepherd. Images of David as a brave warrior often carried political overtones, emblematic of an ideal king or as a personification of vigilance.

Stylistically, the dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and the powerful realism of the figures set against a silvery, nocturnal background, remind us of Gioacchino Assereto’s early training in Genoa where he was exposed to the dynamic, close-up compositions of the great Baroque painter Bernardo Strozzi.


  • Artist Name: North Italian, perhaps Genoese (Italian, 17th century)
  • Title: David with the Head of Goliath
  • Date: c. 1610
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 31-3/8 x 22-1/16 in. (79.6 x 56.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: P.1979.10
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Museum

Object Information

(Sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, 7 April 1976, lot 31, ill., as attributed to Tanzio da Varallo, Judith et Holopherne, to);
[Sylvia Blatas, Paris, buying for];
Norton Simon, gift 1979 to;
Norton Simon Museum.

Loan to the permanent collection, Huntington Mansion, 17th Century European Art Galleries

  • The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 2012-06-18 to 2014-06-30
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1324 p. 394

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