For the last twenty years the series of six biblical scenes to which this canvas belongs has been attributed to the circle of Juan de la Corte (grandfather of Gabriel, the celebrated flower painter). Documented as a painter active in Madrid in 1613, a series of works dated between 1623 and 1642 are known by his hand. De la Corte failed to become Court Painter in 1627 as this place was not filled, while in 1638 he paid the highest amount of any Madrid painter to the tax authorities for his sold works. Numerous signed and unsigned works of varying quality produced by De la Corte’s studio are known. There are surviving series on the Trojan War and the Victories of Charles V while documentary evidence indicates the presence of around 40 works in the Buen Retiro Palace and the Alcázar in Madrid on biblical, mythological and historical subjects and landscapes.
This episode (1 Samuel 25, 14-39) is easily identifiable and is a common subject in art. Abigail offers food and drink to David and his retinue in her desire to placate him for the insult received from her husband Nabal and thus to avoid reprisals against her people. De la Corte adhered to his usual approach and depicted the soldiers with flags and a large number of lances, painting a large crowd of figures in the middle-ground emerging from a city that is similar to others in the series, albeit located further into the pictorial space. The ass and camels are out of proportion as this artist was generally accustomed to painting horses, while the gifts are poorly painted as neither De la Corte nor his assistants were still-life painters.