David in the Wilderness by William Dyce. c.1860. Oil on millboard, 34.30 x 49.50 cm (framed: 65.60 x 81.00 x 8.80 cm). National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh. Purchased with the aid of the National Heritage Purchase Grant (Scotland) in 1981, and photographed by Antonia Reeve. Shared here by kind permission of National Galleries Scotland, under a personal (non-commercial) use agreement. Image download and text by Jacqueline Banerjee.

This painting illustrates David's stay in the wilderness, as recorded in 1 Samuel, ch.23, v.14 onwards, and is one of a pair with Dyce's painting of Jesus's forty days in the wilderness, Man of Sorrows. The influence of the Nazarenes is again apparent, and there is the same attention to detail in the landscape of both works, to the extent that the Biblical figures seem to have been introduced into its vastness, rather than having it as a backdrop. In both cases, too, the wilderness seems to be that of the Scottish Highlands rather than that of the Holy Land. According to the gallery's commentary on the paintings, the pair of paintings "contrast youth and maturity, spring and autumn, hope and grief, the Old Testament and the New, reminding the viewer that Christ was of the lineage of David, and that David was his precursor."

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"About This Artwork.". National Galleries Scotland. Web. 15 February 2018.

Last modified 15 February 2018