Though not much is known about Guido Cagnacci’s early life and education, he was well-known in his lifetime for his unique balance of drama and grace in his paintings. As the son of a wealthy furrier, he was able to travel to Rome at some point in his early career, and also studied in Bologna. He later lived and worked in Venice, and spent the later part of his career in the service of the court of Leopold I in Vienna. David with the Head of Goliath, painted during Cagnacci’s time in Venice, captures a moment right after the boy hero has slain his giant enemy. Dramatic and even violent scenes from the Bible were popular in the emotionally-charged Baroque era, especially in contrast to the serene Madonna and Child and Annunciation scenes of the Renaissance. The theatrical use of light and dark recalls the Baroque master Caravaggio, but Cagnacci retains a sense of elegance and delicacy in his portrayal of David.
The Columbia Museum of Art collection.
This painting can be seen at the Cincinnati Art Museum until July 22, 2018, in the exhibition Cagnacci: Painting Beauty and Death. I wish I could visit it! :)