David Playing the Harp before Saul, c. 1508


Bequest of Herschel V. Jonesexpand_more  P.68.198

Not on Viewexpand_more

This engraving is one of Lucas van Leyden's finest, displaying his prodigious talent for establishing intrigue. David's popularity after slaying Goliath made King Saul livid. Making matters worse for Saul, God afflicted him with an evil spirit (1 Samuel 19:9). Now almost maniacally unstable, with fidgety feet and locked eyes, the king tightens his grip on the javelin as David futilely tries to calm him. Lucas leaves the viewer wondering whether Saul will carry out his threat to pin David to the wall. The gesturing figure at back is believed to be a self-portrait.

David Playing the Harp before Saul
Artist Life
c. 1490 - 1533
Accession Number
Pierre Mariette, 1693 and 1698 (see L.1787); Albertina Duplicate (L.5g); Colnaghi; Knoedler & Co., 1925
Catalogue Raisonne
Hollstein 27 i/iii; Bartsch 27
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.