ITALIAN SCHOOL, 17TH CENTURY
DAVID WITH THE HEAD OF GOLIATH
oil on canvas
52¼ by 37¾ in.; 132.7 by 95.9 cm.
The canvas is lined and is stable on its stretcher. The overall image reads well and strongly beneath an old, dulled, and discolored varnish. Apart from the one small loss near the center of the right edge, there are no major instabilities visible to the surface of the painted canvas. Scattered spots of old retouches that have slightly discolored are visible in the background, such as in the upper right and upper left corners. Inspection under UV light reveals a thick varnish beneath which there may be a few old campaigns of restoration. An area near the lower edge beneath the head of Goliath fluoresces unevenly. There are some brushy strokes of strengthening to the lower background, to David's garments and hair, as well as in the background. There are some additional scattered spots throughout the composition, including the upper background and some fine strokes in the face of David. Restoration is visible in the shadowed chest and stomach of David, possibly to address old repairs, as well as in his hat beneath the feather. There seems to have been an old campaign of restoration in David's face. Offered in a simply carved wooden frame with a decorative gold liner.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
While the attribution of this painting has eluded scholars, its quality and distinctive elements suggest an accomplished Italian hand. Great attention has been paid to the figure of David, whose muscular body is dramatically lit from above. His delicately posed left hand holds the ropes of his slingshot, while his right hand presses down firmly on the large head of his victim. Goliath's head is similarly rendered with great detail, from the scruff of his thick beard, to his large nose and lips, and to his furrowed brow.