(Naples, 1607 – 1656)

David with the head of Goliath celebrated by Jewish girls

Judith and Holofernes

oil on canvas
Ø 48 cm

The couple of oval paintings is a mature masterpiece by Agostino Beltrano, a Neapolitan artist active in the first half of the 17th Century. According to the studies they can be dated between the end of 1640 and the beginning of 1650.

The subjects, taken from the Old Testament, are quite frequent in Neapolitan paintings of that time. In the first oval David is represented seated next to Goliath’s head. He is celebrated by Jewish girls who are walking towards him, by the rhythm of dance, with musical instruments in their hands. Another version of this subject, although in rectangular size, is known: painted by Agostino Beltrano, it is now kept at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

In the second painting, the protagonist is Judith, who is depicted after killing the Nebuchadnezzar’s army commander, Holofernes. In the half-light behind the heroine appears the handmaid, who is ready to wrap the severed head of the warrior and to bring it back to the city of Bethlehem, recognizable in the background.

It can be infered that Agostino Beltrano, like other contemporaries of his, knew the artworks by Massimo Stanzione. However, he added a moderate interest in a neo-Venetian and Rubensian way typical of Giovan Benedetto Castiglione and Pietro Novelli.