David and Goliath (1599) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - 1st version
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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio painted three versions of David and Goliath of which this is the first from 1599. David is a youth who has just slain the giant Goliath. His boyish face is cast in shadow. As a result it is Goliath himself who has become the focus of the piece. Just this version portrays the behemoth's armored body. The fist is clenched - as if there is still tension in the corpse. Being just slain his face has a certain self awareness as seen in its outward gaze with the mouth agape. Why is this villain the main attraction? In my reasoning it is because the head is a self-portrait of Caravaggio himself who has provided the viewer with shock value as well as morbid vanity. At the same time he has been a good servant to the faith staying true to the Biblical story. Ever the rebel, maybe the artist is sticking his thumb in the eye of Authority, e.g. the Church. What a scoundrel! You gotta love him.
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