David with the Head of Goliath – Art Appreciation

The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour

Title: David with the Head of Goliath

Artist: Andrea del Castagno

Date: 1450-1455

Medium: Tempera on leather on wood

Scale: 45 ½ x 30 1/8 in; 115.6 x 76.5 cm

David with the Head of Goliath - The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour
David with the Head of Goliath – The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour

David with the Head of Goliath refers to a unique art piece in the Renaissance period. It is a sporadic example of a painted shield which can be credited to a great master. The piece is based on anextract from the bible. This piece of art was done by Andrea del Castagno, an Italian painter that was highly influential during Renaissance. Castagno was well known for naturalistic figures treatment and emotional power. Some of his other known pieces include resurrection, entombment and the crucifixion, and the famous last supper that was said to demonstrate his greatest talent of creating balance between architecture and human figure. Castagno also learnt three-dimensional figures painting though with little emphasis on environment integration. He also worked as a cartoonist (National Gallery of Art, 2017a).

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In this particular piece Castagno depicts a young athlete holding a stone tied in a piece of cloth and a head of a man at his feet rooted with a stone. The Renaissance art period is represented in this painting by use of shadow and light to define legs and arms muscles, and providing powerful activity to running pose of David and windblown clothes.David with the Head of Goliath is festooned with a narrative scene rather than a distinctive coat of arms. It is anticipated for ceremonial parades display instead of protection in battle. The art piece was particularly suitable for 15th century Florentine audience. As the tiniest chief political power on Peninsula, Italy, the city perceived itself as young David fighting against Powerful Goliaths who in this case was the Pope. The paining demonstrates the city victory where the head of the terrible goliath lies at the feet of David, with the stone rooted in its forehead, which act as a warning on to Florence enemies, predicting what will happen to them (National Gallery of Art, 2017b).

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