David Cutting Off the Head of Goliath (after Giulio Romano), 1540
Bartsch XV 6; Albricci 6, ii/II, with signature erased. Inscribed in the plate, lower center: “Io.Mantuanus Sculptor MDXXXX” (partially erased on the plate). Printed on laid paper. A dark and rich impression of this scarce engraving, with strong contrasts. In fine condition aside from a small minor surface abrasion in the tree trunk at center left, a small rust stain on Goliath’s face, and an expertly repaired tear at the lower right paper edge. Trimmed on the platemark with narrow thread margins all around the black border line. The only known example of the first state is preserved at the Albertina of Wien.
The subject represented is one of the most famous episodes of the Bible: the shepherd boy David who, armed only with a sling, defeats and beheads Goliath, the fearsome Philistine giant. The engraving comes from a drawing, now lost, by Giulio Romano. The subject is related to the fresco of David and Goliath in the Loggia di Davide at the Palazzo Te. The engraving shows a highly refined technique, evident in the relic on the right worked in low relief.
Exponent of the school of Mantova, Scultori is also known by the names of Ghisi and Bertano. A pupil of Giulio Romano, he was primarily a painter, devoting himself to graphic work only in the period between 1536 and 1540. The high quality of his works, extraordinarily close to the spirit of Giorgio Ghisi, have mistakenly contributed to the belief that the two were relatives.