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Key facts
Full title Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam
Artist Claude
Artist dates 1604/5? - 1682
Date made 1658
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 111.4 x 186.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG6
Location Room 29
Art route(s) B
Collection Main Collection
Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam
Claude
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King David and his companions emerge from the cave of Adullam. They cannot enter the city of Bethlehem and the valley below as the Philistines, whose pitched tents are just visible in the bottom left corner, occupy both. Nevertheless, three of the King’s soldiers have bravely ventured out to fulfil his wish for a drink of water, and they have returned to offer it to him. The King raises his hands, refusing to drink. He is ashamed at having risked their lives and offers the water instead to God. This scene closely follows the account in the Old Testament book of Samuel, which was rarely painted during the seventeenth century.

The composition, with its foreground activity framed by a tree and cave, leading to a hazy evening sky, is typical of Claude’s idealised landscapes. Close inspection reveals many intricate details: different plants have been placed along the bottom edge, the valley is occupied by small-scale animated figures, and buildings merge with the landscape beyond.

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