Nobody knows which Caravaggio’s last work was. This painting, which was in the collection of Scipione Borghese as early as 1613, has been dated as early as 1605 and as late as 1609-10.
The work is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome still today together with many other artworks by Caravaggio and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Its melancholy would suit the gloomy thoughts of the artist's final years. The subject matter recalls the Beheading of St John the Baptist in Valletta, but this time there is no brilliant colour and, as a small picture, it has an intimacy that was not evident in the grand public work.
The young boy handles his trophy with disgust. It could be possible that Goliath's head is indeed Caravaggio's, who knows the end is really close. In fact there is no hope!!!
The device recalls the way that Michelangelo, in the Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel, placed an anguished face with features evidently his own onto the flayed body of St Bartholomew, but Caravaggio's mood is closer to one of despair. As a witness to God's light, Bartholomew takes his seat in heaven: Goliath, God's enemy, is doomed to everlasting night.
Caravaggio's painting is dominated by dirty silver, black and brown. The light shows David to look like a boy from the street, whose sword has just a drop of blood on it to show that, like Caravaggio once, he has just killed a man, therefore there's no hope.
Caravaggio is lost!!