David with the Head of Goliath
Carlo Dolci (Italian (Florentine), 1616–1686)
131.5 x 106.0 cm (51 3/4 x 41 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Not On View
With meticulous realism, Dolci has created a disconcertingly unruffled and elegant young David, only his white sash faintly stained with Goliath’s blood. This is one of the last paintings by an artist whose work, much appreciated by his contemporaries, epitomized religious sentiment in seventeenth-century Florence. It was commissioned as one of a pair; the other painting, now lost, depicted Salome with the head of John the Baptist. The record of payment, preserved on the back of the stretcher, indicates that the painting required ten years to complete.
inscribed on rock: A.S. 1680 FCD FLOR
1680, Marchese Pierfrancesco Rinuccini, Florence (original commission) [see note 1]; until 1852, by descent within the Rinuccini family; May 1, 1852, Pierfrancesco Rinuccini sale, Palazzo Rinuccini, Florence, lot 254, possibly to Anatole Nicolaievitch Demidoff, Prince of San Donato (b. 1813 - d. 1870), Florence [see note 2]; March 3-4, 1870, Demidoff sale, Paris, lot 149, not sold [see note 3]; by descent to Paul Pavlovich Demidoff, 2nd Prince of San Donato (b. 1839 - d. 1885), Florence; March 15 - April 10, 1880, Demidoff sale, San Donato Palace, lot 1354. Possibly with Galerie Georges Petit, Paris [see note 4]. March 11, 1975, anonymous sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, lot 19, not sold (?); December 8, 1975, anonymous sale, Ader, Picard, and Tajan, Paris, lot 65. Private collection (perhaps Silvano Lodi, Lugano) [see note 5]; by 1978, sold by Silvano Lodi to P. and D. Colnaghi, London [see note 6]. 1981, Matthiesen Fine Art, Ltd., London [see note 7]. 1985, P. and D. Colnaghi, New York; 1985, sold by Colnaghi to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 1986)
 Carlo Dolci painted this composition and a pendant, showing Salome with the head of John the Baptist (current location unknown), for the Marchese Rinuccini. The artist recorded the payment he received on the stretchers of both paintings. He began work on the David in 1670 and received his final payment in 1681.
 In the 1870 Demidoff auction catalogue, the pendant to this work (lot 148) is said to have remained with the Rinuccini family until 1853, at which time it came to San Donato; it is implied that the David has an identical history. It is unclear whether the paintings were acquired at the Rinuccini sale of May, 1852, or at that held in Paris in December of that year ("Tableaux des écoles italienne, hollandaise, flamande et française," Bonnefons de Lavialle, Paris, December 6-8, 1852). The latter scenario might explain the 1853 acquisition date, which is also given in the exhibition catalogue "Anatole Demidoff: Prince of San Donato" (Wallace Collection, London, 1994), p. 24.
 A price annotated in the auction catalogue suggests that the painting was sold, but its inclusion in the 1880 Demidoff sale indicates otherwise.
 According to notes in the MFA curatorial file.
 Charles McCorquodale, "Carlo Dolci's David with the Head of Goliath," Connoisseur 196 (September, 1977): 55-59, published the painting as being in a private collection. Whether Silvano Lodi was intended is not known; Lodi sold the picture to Colnaghi.
 It was with Colnaghi by 1978, and was included in the exhibition "Painting in Florence, 1600-1700" (London, 1979), p. 62, cat. no. 24.
 See Matthiesen Fine Art, "Important Italian Baroque Paintings, 1600-1700" (London, 1981), pp. 92-94, cat. no. 35.
Charles Potter Kling Fund