The painting was presented to the French king Louis XIV in 1715 by Nicolas Giudice, clerk of the apostolic court, and later a cardinal, and is now displayed at the Louvre in a gold frame on an elaborate pedestal that allows viewers to walk around it and see both sides. Daniele’s style is aligned with that of Michelangelo’s in that his treatment of the subject is strongly volumetric with attention to the musculature of the figures, posed with heroic gestures as they fight for their lives. These compositions show David preparing to strike the final blow in front of a tent, similar to Michelangelo’s painting of this subject in a fresco in the Sistine Chapel.
Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra was an Italian painter and sculptor in the late Renaissance Mannerist style. He was born in Volterra and studied in Siena with Giovanni Antonio Bazzi and Baldassare Peruzzi, and accompanied the latter to Rome in 1535. There he worked as an assistant to Pierino del Vaga. His major break came when he befriended Michelangelo, who assisted him with designs for his work and helped him obtain commissions and patronage, including a position as superintendent of the works of the Vatican under Pope Paul III in which capacity he served from 1547 until the pope’s death in 1549. There he finished the ornaments of the Sala Regia. Among his finest productions were the series of frescoes for the Capella Orsini in the church of the Trinità dei Monti, especially the Descent from the Cross (c. 1545). He is also known for his two-sided painting The Battle of David and Goliath (also known as Victory of David Over Goliath) (c. 1555) now in the Louvre, and Massacre of the Innocents (c. 1557) at the Uffizi Gallery. Among his important bronzes is a sensitive portrait bust of Michelangelo. In 1565, the Vatican commissioned Daniele to add clothing and fig leaves to the nude figures on Michelangelo’s fresco of The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, earning him the satirical nickname Il Braghettone (the Breeches-maker).
Benoît Audran I was a member of a large family of French artists that included his grandfather, father, uncles, brothers, and his son, who was also named Benoît Audran. He was trained by his uncle Girard Audran, and completed over 200 prints, including engravings of paintings by masters such as Le Brun and Lefèbvre. He also contributed engraved vignettes to books, notably a series of illustrations of Daphnis and Chloé (1718) after compositions by the Regent, Philippe II, Duke of Orleans. Audran was admitted to the Royal Academy in 1709.
Dedication: “A Monseigneur le Prince de Chelamar, Commandeur de Caravaca dans l’Order de St. Jacques, Gentilhomme de la Chambre de S.M. Catholique, Ministre de son Conseil privé, Grand Ecuier de la Reine, et Ambassadeur en France. e&c.”
[To My Lord the Prince of Chelamar, Commander of Caravaca within the Order of St. Jacques, Gentleman of the Chamber of S.M. Catholic, Minister of his private Cabinet, Great Squire of the Queen, and Ambassador in France.]
Full publication information: “Benoît Audran graveur ordin’re du Roy, dedie cette copie d’une des deux peintûres de Michel Ange Buondrotta qu’occuppent les surfaces d’une grande pierre, representant le même sujet du combat de David et de Goliath en deux differentes attitudes, laquelle a eté presenté par son Ex’ce a Louis le Grand, à Marly le 25 Juillet de l’anneé 1715 au Nom de Monseig’r Judice son frere, Grand Maître du Palais Apostolique. A Paris chés Le Pere et Vaulée rue St. Jacques à la ville de Rouan.”
[Benoît Audran, engraver ordinaire to the king, dedicates this copy of one of the two paintings of Michaelangelo Buonarotti which occupies the surfaces of a large stone, representing the same subject of the combat of David and of Goliath in two different poses, which was presented by His Excellency to Louis the Great, at Marly, the 25 of July of the year 1715 in the name of Lord Judice his brother, Grand Master of the Apostolic Palace. Published in Paris on the premises of Le Pere et Vaulée, St. Jacques Street in the town of Rouan.]
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, handling, wear, soft creases. Some minor paper and glue residue backside, at the four corners, or traces thereof, apparently where formerly mounted to another sheet.
“Audran.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/00/0049/T004934.asp (29 September 2009).
“Benoît Audran I.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/00/0049/T004938.asp (29 September 2009).
Duchesne, Jean. Musée de peinture et de sculpture ou recueil des principaux tableaux statues et bas-reliefs des collections publiques et particulières de l’Europe, Vol. 2. France: Audot, 1830. 94.
Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 4, p. 227.