The Old Testament hero Samson rests his head on his hand in a pensive, even melancholic pose. Objects on the table recall two of his heroic deeds: he killed a lion with his bare hands, and liberated the Israelites by slaughtering a thousand Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone. Samson’s cuirass, or breastplate, is joined at the shoulder by a clasp in the form of a bee—the emblem of the Barberini family, who commissioned the painting. The figure of Samson may be a self-portrait of the artist.
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