Vieira Portuense, Portuguese painter of the second half of the 18th century, represents the peak of the neoclassical aesthetics and announces the transition to Romanticism, fruit of double English and Italian training. He is one of the most important painters of this phase, and his name proper is Francisco Vieira.
He initiated the training with his father, Domingos Francisco Vieira, and later on with Glama Stroberle and Jean Pillement, when this last one was in Oporto; he also studied with Joaquim Mendes da Rocha, in Lisbon. He travelled to Rome in 1789, with a scholarship, where he studied with Domenico Corvi and established his workshop. In 1793 starts a great trip throughout Europe visiting the main cultural centres, but it is in Parma, where he studied the works of Correggio, that he developed his majestic toil which granted him public recognition and the appointment as academic of the Royal Academy of Parma, despite his round through Berlin, Dresden and Potsdam. In 1798, he started friendship with the painters Reynolds and Bartollozi, and established his residence in London.
When he returned to his home city he brought with him a whole set of knowledge and influences that made him profuse, allowing him to address different themes, such as the historical and religious figure, landscape, and portrait. If the first works reveal an aesthetics stressed with a Baroque and Rococo formalization, despite informed by neoclassical composition and grammatical schemes from Italian influence, the end of his career points clearly to pre-Romanticist sensitivity and creative direction, which grants the title of “Father of The Portuguese Romanticism”.
In this magnificent work we can see the representation of Goliath, with the title “Head of Goliath”, which makes part of the set of three allegories all displayed at this museum. The painter might have painted them still in Parma, and the theme is constant, they are: “Head of John the Baptist” and “Head of Holofernes”. They represent the allegorical period of Vieira Portuense and they are considered the most representative works by this author in this type of composition.