King David, who is the subject of many legends, was the shepherd and warrior who went on to become the statesman and unifier of Israel. A versatile figure as well as a musician and the author of the Book of Psalms, in Christian art he is also important as the model of Christ (according to Matthew, he is his direct ancestor). The most frequent subjects are scenes either from his battle with Goliath or David’s triumphal return, holding Goliath’s head in his hand. In his fight against the giant he refused to use armour, choosing instead just five stones to use with his slingshot. After hitting Goliath in the head and killing him, he cut off his head with a sword. In the painting he is striding forward, dressed in a red cloak with a shepherd’s pouch and a sword resting on his shoulder; in his other hand he holds his trophy, the head of Goliath. He is surrounded by Israelite women, who came out playing timbrels and lyres, praising him and singing: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18: 6-7). This famous episode, understood in Christianity as the model for Christ’s entrance to Jerusalem, is masterfully depicted by an artist based in the style of Antoon Claeissens (c.1536–1613), who came from a line of painters in Bruges.
Consulted with PhDr. Hana Seifertová. Restored.