The Prado

Madrid for kids

Caravaggio David with the Head of Goliath c.1600


The story of David and Goliath.  David was a small shepherd boy and visited a battleground to see his brothers.  There he saw the 9 foot Goliath, from the enemy Philistine army, daring people to a fight him instead of the entire army.  David offered to take the giant on in this duel because he had fought bears and lions when protecting his flock of sheep and believed his God would protect him.  He used a sling shot and aimed a rock at the giant's forehead.  When the giant fell he raced over to him, grabbed the giant's sword and killed him, and then chopped off his head.
One theatrical source of light from above David's shoulder in the dark
Dramatic moments Caravaggio has painted the shepherd David about to lift the just severed head ofthe giant Goliath.  The look of surprise is still on the giant's face
Baroque Painting characterised by
- one light source
- dark background
- dramatic theatrical moments
- movement
Caravaggio the artist mastered the technique of CHIARASCURO, [painting with light and shadows to make things look three dimensional].  None of his 'students' came close to his skillful rendering of form.  He was also reknowned for making the heros and saints like the people on the street, with dirty finger and toe nails and frayed clothing, believing that the common person would relate better to his saints than those who looked too clean and wealthy.  .
Dirty nails to make David 'like' the common person
One theatrical source of light from above David's shoulder in the dark
Caravaggio the man was a bit of a rogue, always in trouble one way or another.  He is said to have killed a man after a tennis game and police broke into his studio because meat he was painting for a 'still life' had begun to rot and stink and neighbours thought someone had died.  He spent many days, in and out of jail and was found drowned in a river, the victim of foul play.  
Dramatic moments
Caravaggio has painted the shepherd David about to lift the just severed head of the giant Goliath.  The look of surprise is still on the giant's face

the head is actually a self portrait.  

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