This is a Renaissance painting by the Italian artist Andrea del Castagno around the year 1450, who painted it using the technique of tempera on a leather mounted on wood. And despite these materials has survived to this day. However, that shape and material have an explanation, since it would be the paint for a shield used in the processions of Florence.
David by Andrea del Castagno
And in addition to its material conditions, its trapezoidal shape did not help its conservation either, and yet today it is safeguarded in the National Gallery in Washington where it arrived as part of the Widener Collection.
The biblical hero of David was represented many times during the Renaissance and Baroque, and possibly his most emblematic images are the sculptures made by Michelangelo, Donatello or Bernini.
A very common representation in Florence, since David was the symbol of the city during the fifteenth century, and was considered its defender, against other Italian powers as he could be Milan. But it also had a political meaning, since while Florence was a Republic governed by the most illustrious personalities, cities like Milan were governed by much more despotic governments, which is why David was also a symbol of a more intelligent and skillful city, capable ofto face very powerful enemies.
Curiously we see that Castagno presents us in a single image two different moments of the biblical episode to which he alludes. Since on the one hand we see that David is in the act of throwing a stone at the giant Goliath. Which we know he will defeat, but here it is even more explicit, since the painter presents us with the same decapitated head of Goliath placed at the feet of the hero, taking advantage of David's own throwing posture.
Besides that, it is very interesting to analyze the work pictorially. He places the hero in a landscape, which gives him three-dimensionality and also naturalness. In this way, the turn that he has to make to throw the stone is much better understood. That is, he creates an airspace for the figure, which can be moved
And on the other hand it divides the surface into two halves chromatically speaking. The upper one much brighter with the blue sky that makes David's face and throwing gesture stand out. While the lower half is darker, and in it he dedicates himself to painting that landscape, which gives it that touch of naturalness that the artists of the Florentine Renaissance coveted so much.