This intricate wax relief depicts the biblical hero David with the head of his opponent, Goliath. The artist paid remarkable attention to the scene’s details, which include a bejeweled helmet, a squirrel nibbling fruit, and a variety of textured patterns. An artwork modeled with such skill would have been displayed in a “cabinet of wonders,” or Wunderkammer.
Artist German
  • David and Goliath
Date 17th century
Medium colored wax
Dimensions Unframed: 11 13/16 × 8 7/16 inches (30 × 21.5 cm)
Framed: approx. 18 x 14 x 2.5 inches
Credit Line Museum Purchase, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Deaccession Fund
Accession Number 2020.5
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View British Decorative Arts S333, Level 3 (see map)
Inscriptions Inscribed and colored in red wax at bottom:
Hier söchet Wunderding. Ein Schäfer fällt den Rißen / Sein Schlingen hat gethan Waß noch kein Spieß erwißen / Den Stab weicht nun daß Schwert: daß volle praller Haupt ligt ierzundt zur Erde / Weil es mieß undterligen durch daß selbst eigne Schwerdt
(Here behold a wonderous thing. A shepherd strikes the Giant/ His sling has done what no spear has proven/ The sword now yields to the staff: the bearded head of the braggart now lies on the ground/ For it had to be subjected to his own sword)
until 1917, Dr. Köhler (Vienna, Austria);
January 30, 1917, sold by Köhler through (C. J. Wawra, Vienna, Austria).
by 2019, (Julius Böhler, Starnberg, Germany);
2020-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)