Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein, Vaduz Castle

“David with the head of Goliath,” by the Italian painter Girolamo Forabosco, about 1665. The victorious David, his sling tucked into his belt and wearing an animal skin, carries the huge head of the Philistine giant on his shoulder in the age-old manner of shepherds bringing home the lamb. The tilt of his head, the curve of his body and the expression on his face all give David an unnatural calmness that belies the fierceness of his recent battle.

David’s great triumph earned for him the command of Saul’s army and the praises of the women of Israel. “Saul has slain his thousands; David, his tens of thousands!” they chanted (1 Samuel 18:7). Saul’s fits of jealous rage forced David to flee—with the aid of his beloved companion Jonathan, Saul’s son—to the Judean wilderness in fear for his life.