Violence in fine art, Art viewpoint

Document Type

Research Paper


Paintings of violence are hung on the walls of museums throughout the world, seen as displays of artistic mastery rather than portrayals of destructive behavior. An example of this is seen in Domenico Fetti’s “David with the Head of Goliath,” an Italian Baroque painting thought to have originated in 1620 (The Royal Collection 2007).

The text displays a tremendous representation of power and, simultaneously, lack thereof. The posthumous gaze of Goliath towards David and the sword suggests an envious dynamic. David is situated upon Goliath’s head as if presenting a hunting trophy, which perpetually dehumanizes Goliath. The frame that is formed between David and the sword emphasizes a celestial bond between him and an otherworldly higher being due to the illuminated sky, which makes up the focal point of the text. The image inherently creates a hypertextual relationship for the viewer, especially since the iteration of David and Goliath is popular enough to be universally understood from the Biblical legend. “David with the Head of Goliath” is obviously an interpretation of that story, meaning the image exists hypertextually since it’s existence would not be possible without the original text.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Violence in art; Violence--Psychological aspects; Violence--Public opinion


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