The bronze statuette presented here depicts the young shepherd David in the moment immediately following his battle with the giant Goliath. The boy kills his adversary with a slingshot and severs his head with Goliath's own sword.
The invention of this renowned sculpture is traditionally attributed to Bartolomeo Bellano, one of Donatello's closest students along with Bertoldo di Giovanni. Donatello, the great Tuscan master, relocated to Padua where he collaborated with local artists.
The attribution of this bronze statuette to the follower of Bartolomeo Bellano is based on stylistic comparisons with certain works by the renowned sculptor. The original casting, currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, measures 28.5 cm in height, and it is only slightly taller than this version.
The immediate iconographic reference is Donatello's David, created during the same years and now preserved at the National Museum of Bargello in Florence. The pose is identical, but Bellano's version is more realistic, while Donatello's is more idealized, with the nude David resembling ancient statue rather than a naturalistic representation of a body in the aftermath of a deadly battle.
The copies and replicas of Bellano's bronze can be found in various museums and private collections. Each one presents substantial differences but the original model remains recognasible. Some of these bronze statuettes are commonly attributed to the workshop of Severo Calzetta of Ravenna, after Bellano. It is impossible to mention all the versions alternately attributed to Severo or Bellano. Among others, one is held in the Frick Collection in New York, two replicas in the Louvre in Paris, a variant transformed into a candlestick at the National Gallery in Washington, the bronze statuette at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an example at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh attributed to Severo's workshop, and, last but not least, one at the Correr Museum in Venice.
Our bronze is very well finished. Among the known versions, it resembles most closely the Louvre statuette, altough with some differences. It is presumably an old Paduan copy, possibly from the 17th century. Similar bronze sculptures have appeared in international auctions such as Sotheby's New York 2011 and Christie's 2006.