The family workshop of artists founded by Girolamo da Santa Croce was active in the village of Santa Croce, near Bergamo in northern Italy, from the early 16th to the mid-17th century. Girolamo studied in Gentile Bellini’s workshop in Venice from 1503 until the master’s death in 1507. He continued in the tradition of Bellini for the remainder of his career, particularly in religious-themed compositions. Here he portrays the biblical David, king of the Israelites and an ancestor of Christ, dressed in richly brocaded robes of silk and velvet and wearing a turban with a crown. The psaltery on which David plays, a stringed instrument resembling a zither, refers to his presumed authorship of the Psalms of the Old Testament. Behind the imposing figure stretches a vast landscape of mountains and winding roads. Influenced by the late Gothic miniaturist tradition, Girolamo paid close attention to myriad details in this large composition but nevertheless managed to harmonize them through a characteristically Venetian handling of light and color—a harmony that echoes the musical subject of the painting.
Resource: A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500–1850, Elizabeth Rodini and Elissa B. Weaver, eds., exh. cat. Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2002, 66.