In the classic biblical tale of faith, daring, and skill overcoming brute strength and superior odds (1 Samuel 17), the shepherd boy David slew the armored Philistine giant Goliath with just a stave, a slingshot, and a pouch containing a few pebbles from a local brook. After stunning Goliath with a stone from his slingshot, David quickly took up the giant's sword and severed his head.

Assured that his audience knew the story, Salomon de Bray could evoke a meaningful narrative by depicting only a boy with an oversize sword. De Bray's David embodies youth and naiveté; he is an ordinary, rather blank-faced Dutch youth, not an idealized heroic type.

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