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David and Goliath, 17th century

  • German

Colored wax

  • Unframed: 11 13/16 × 8 7/16 inches (30 × 21.5 cm)
  • approx. 18 x 14 x 2.5 inches

Museum Purchase, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Deaccession Fund


On View

  • British Decorative Arts S333


European Sculpture and Dec Arts

This intricate wax relief depicts the biblical hero David with the head of his opponent, Goliath. The artist paid remarkable attention to the scene’s details, which include a bejeweled helmet, a squirrel nibbling fruit, and a variety of textured patterns. An artwork modeled with such skill would have been displayed in a “cabinet of wonders,” or Wunderkammer.

Inscribed and colored in red wax at bottom: Hier söchet Wunderding. Ein Schäfer fällt den Rißen / Sein Schlingen hat gethan Waß noch kein Spieß erwißen / Den Stab weicht nun daß Schwert: daß volle praller Haupt ligt ierzundt zur Erde / Weil es mieß undterligen durch daß selbst eigne Schwerdt (Here behold a wonderous thing. A shepherd strikes the Giant/ His sling has done what no spear has proven/ The sword now yields to the staff: the bearded head of the braggart now lies on the ground/ For it had to be subjected to his own sword)

until 1917, Dr. Köhler (Vienna, Austria)

January 30, 1917, sold by Köhler through (C. J. Wawra, Vienna, Austria). by 2019, (Julius Böhler, Starnberg, Germany)

2020-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

German, David and Goliath, 17th century, colored wax. Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum Purchase, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Deaccession Fund, 2020.5.