The article highlights the added value with which the scene of David with the head of Goliath has accumulated in the seventeenth century. During this period these paintings were intended to represent the young David as a penitent saint atoning for his sins rather than the divinely supported triumph of the young shepherd over Goliath, the skilled and talented military hero. What is emphasized is the a-temporal nature of this iconography, using David, the boy who killed Goliath as atoning for his most grievous sin that he committed many years later when he was already king of Israel toward Uriah the Hittite. In what follows I would like to characterize the unique iconography developed in the early seventeenth century, which represents the young David as a penitent while Goliath's head signals the memento mori. Goliath's severed head stands for the skulls appearing in other visual representations of penitent saints.
- Guido Reni
- King David
- Mary Magdalene
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Religious studies