Genoa's rich maritime culture made it an important artistic crossroads where influences from the north and the south of Europe converged. In the first part of the seventeenth century, Bernardo Strozzi, a Capuchin friar, was the foremost painter in the city. His work reflected the wide variety of sources typical of such a cosmopolitan center. Although early in his career he primarily painted devotional pictures, later his subject matter broadened; his genre paintings, particularly those of kitchens, are much admired.
The "David" was painted in Venice—another cosmopolitan center for maritime trade—where Strozzi lived the last fifteen years of his life. David’s conquest of the giant Goliath was not only a biblical story but also was viewed as illustrating the triumph of good over evil and representing political victory over tyrants. The luscious colors and fluent brushwork Strozzi used to render the feathers and fabrics worn by David —typical of the flamboyant, sensual effects of contemporary Venetian painting—are contrasted with the dark, ruddy features of Goliath’s decapitated head, which is painted with equal vigor.