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Giovanni Bilivert (Italy 1585-1644)

David with the Head of Goliath

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 6 – 9 December 2022

Lot 312 Giovanni Bilivert (Italy 1585-1644). David with the Head of Goliath. Oil on relined canvas, 137 x 115.5 cm.

The present painting is an autograph replica of the prototype now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, inv. no. 523.


250.000 – 300.000 SEK
€ 23.000 – 28.000


The collection of Ermanno Lucini, no. 6.
A Swedish private collection.

In context

The dramatic scene of David and Goliath interpreted by Giovanni Bilivert

The present painting, “David with the head of Goliath”, is painted by the artist Giovanni Bilivert (1585-1644). He was an Italian painter active mostly in Florence during the late-mannerism and early baroque period. He came from an artistic family, where his father Jacques was a goldsmith who supervised the metal workshops of Grand Duke Francesco I de’Medici. After his father’s death, Bilivert followed the painter Lodovico Cardi to Rome. He worked there for a couple of years and returned to Florence to join the Accademia del Disegno. In 1611 Bilivert was employed by Cosimo II de’Medici, to work on the designs for works in pietra dura. Further on in his life he unfortunately became blind and could sadly not continue his artistic career. 

“David with the head of Goliath” has been a popular subject among artists, especially during the baroque period. Old Masters like Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi have created some of the most well-known versions of that subject. The painting included in this auction is a beautiful example of the baroque era, where all the crucial features of the style are present. The painting is dramatic and has movement. David seems to be still in motion, and it is clear to the viewer that he has just beheaded Goliath. The lighting is probably inspired by Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro where the contrasts are distinct, and the main character really reveals itself from the dark background. The painting is both realistic but also somewhat theatrical, giving the spectator a true sense of awe. 

The painting offered at the auction is a second version of the prototype now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden (inv. no. 523). They are similar in size but there are some slight differences, such as the white cloth around David’s waist but also the gaze, which is directed more towards the spectator in the Dresden version. The first version has earlier been attributed to Cristofano Allori and Alessandro Turchi. However, both versions have now been attributed to Giovanni Bilivert.

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Sofie Bexhed


Tel: 0705-22 61 62

Amanda Rass


Tel: 0720-70 22 61

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