Mercié, Antonin, 1845-1916

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This image focuses on the face of Goliath in Antonin Mercie’s sculpture, “David.” Goliath’s expression is filled with shock and horror at his defeat. David is very young in the sculpture, and here his foot rests gently upon Goliath’s head, as if to keep it from rolling away while he sheathes his sword. This gesture is full serenity and disgrace; David’s tiny foot gloats his victory. That serenity maximizes the terror in Goliath’s expression. He has been defeated by the unexpected.

Goliath’s face in this image is not ugly or grotesque but classically beautiful, crowned with great tumbling curls. He looks patriarchal, similar to Michelangelo’s Moses, which begs the question: Who does Mercie see when he sees Goliath? This sculpture was done in the earlier years of the Third Republic of France, shortly after the Franco-Prussian war. It can therefore be read as celebrating a victory over Imperialism in Europe.

The story of David and Goliath has become a myth in the Western consciousness of the triumph of minorities against an oppressive system. We must ask: Who are our Davids and Goliaths? We may be expecting to sheathe a sword but end up with a gash in our foreheads. Or we may be equipped with the strength to defeat oppression if we accept it. -- Andrea Thornton

Artist:Mercié, Antonin, 1845-1916
Building:Musée d'Orsay
Object/Function:Sculpture, freestanding

Scripture:Samuel I, 17
Person as Subject:Goliath (Biblical figure)
David, King of Israel
Lectionary links:BProp07
General Subject:Decapitation

Permalink: http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54151
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Copyright Source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenandkat/2618825588/
Copyright Permission:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For uses other than the above, contact the Divinity Library at divref@vanderbilt.edu.
Attribution:Mercié, Antonin, 1845-1916. David, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54151 [retrieved July 3, 2020]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenandkat/2618825588/.
Record Number:54151 Last Updated: 2010-12-09 15:56:12 Record Created: 2009-01-13 08:58:42
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition