BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

David with the Head of Goliath

Oil on canvas, 75 x 65,5 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The painting has been identified as a youthful self-portrait of Bernini, dating to 1625 and connected to the painted self portrait now in the Borghese Gallery. The iconographic choice of self-portrayal in the guise of David is interesting: self-identification with the biblical hero is both a recurring motif in Bernini's art and a theme in the poetry and image-making of his great patron, Pope Urban VIII. The painting technique is dashing and fast, with strongly visible brushstrokes and luminous touches. The treatment of physiognomy seems idealized when compared to a drawing with analogous iconography, at Windsor.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 11 minutes):
Johann Kuhnau: The Fight between David and Goliath (No. 1 of the 6 Stories from the Bible illustrated in music)