Oil on oak panel: 136 x 103.5 cm
Old frame from the 19th century
Maarten De Vos, born in 1532 and died in 1603 in Antwerp, was a prolific Flemish painter and draftsman. He mainly paints historical, religious, and allegorical subjects. This painting on panel represents the triumphal return of David, the head of Goliath in his hand, accompanied by a procession of dancing women who play various musical instruments. The young shepherd defeated the Philistine giant Goliath, using a sling and a stone which he pulls from his bag, throwing it directly at the giant's forehead. He then retrieves the defeated enemy's sword, and cuts off his head. Following the defeat of their leader, the Philistine army capitulated and fled. The artist evokes this scene in the background to the left of our painting. The procession manifests the jubilation of the victorious Jews who march triumphantly towards the city of Jerusalem, as the artist imagines it. Our painting is the illustration of a double Italo-Flemish influence and a pregnant late mannerism expressed by the use of a palette with acid colors and an accentuation of the forms which deliberately breaks with the exactness of the proportions. The elongation of the bodies of the characters as well as their limbs and more particularly the exaggeratedly distended neck, produces a new emotional and artistic effect. We situate our painting in the circle of Maarten De Vos, indeed the allegorical religious scene, the play of perspective, as well as the brightly colored palette, present many analogies with other works by this artist.