Throughout art history, there have been few painters who portrayed Biblical scenes as vividly as master Italian painter Caravaggio. This painting, which he painted in the year of his death, features David and Goliath. Shepherd David, who defeated armed giant Goliath with a stone, symbolizes a brave and good victor. However, the joy of victory or the triumphant spirit in punishing the evil are not seen on the facial expression of David, who is holding the enemy’s head. Why did the painter depicted the scene as such.
The Italian painter always caused controversies and became the talk of the town. Born in Milan but active in Rome, his bold and realistic religious paintings based on dramatic contrasts catapulted the painter to one of the greatest artists in his time. Nevertheless, he often came under heavy fire for disgracing religious paintings by depicting sensational scenes related with beheading or death and using ordinary people as models. His life was also the subject of criticisms. The hot-tempered painter was put in jail for assault over several occasions. Eventually, he fled to the Naples after committing a murder. Fugitive for the last four years of his life, he did not give up painting.
Tired on running away and repenting on his sins, Caravaggio's 'David with the Head of Goliath' was created to be offered as a tribute to the Pope who had the power of pardoning people. The beheaded face of Goliath looks so disgusting and miserable, reflecting the painter’s own face. However, David also resembled a younger Caravaggio. A younger Caravaggio was sadly looking at his older self. As David also committed murder in order to become a victor, he must have felt complicated and miserable. After all, the painter is repenting on his sins and seeking forgiveness through the dual self-portrait depicting his painful and miserable self. However, it was too late. He died a sudden death on his way to Rome to be pardoned. Arguably, it is said that he died after suffering from an intense fever due to malaria. After 38 years of eventful life, he was able to be freed from the scene of a sinner after death.