Featured Work of Art
Silver Plate with David and Goliath, 629–30
Byzantine, made in Constantinople
Diam. 19 7/16 x 2 5/8 in. (49.4 x 6.6 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.396)
Collection Area: European Art, Medieval
Subject Areas: Visual Arts, English Language Arts, World History
Grades: Middle School, High School
Topic/Theme: Power and Leadership, Identity, Stories in Art
Students will be able to
- identify strategies artists use to illustrate narratives; and
- use composition and details to convey a story through images.
Visual Arts – Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
Visual Arts – Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
Visual Arts – Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Visual Arts – Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
English Language Arts – Evaluation Strategies
World History – Era 4: Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter, 300–1000 C.E.
Questions for Viewing
- What do you notice about the material used to create this object? Why do you think the artist selected it?
- Who might have owned an object like this? What might it have been used for?
- What appears to be happening in the central scene?
- Who would you identify as the main characters? Why?
- What type of clothing and accessories are these figures wearing? What might this indicate?
- What do you notice about the organization of the image?
- What appears to be happening in the scene at the top and bottom? How do the scenes relate to one another?
- What strategies has the artist used to help us identify the characters in the top section as David and Goliath?
- What do you notice about the gestures and facial expressions of these figures? What might this tell us?
- How does the artist indicate that time is passing in the narrative?
Choose a well-known secular or religious narrative from books or television and consider the key figures and events. Draw, paint, or use a computer to create a poster, without words, that reflects the story. Utilize pose and accessories to convey information about each figure and use the David Plates as a source of inspiration for organizing the various scenes into a unified composition. Share your completed work to see how others interpret the image.
Materials: Drawing paper, pens, pencils, markers, paint
Activity Setting: Classroom
De Capoa, Chiara. Old Testament Figures in Art. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.
Morales, Esther M., Michael B. Norris, Alice W. Schwarz, and Edith W. Watts. A Masterwork of Byzantine Art: The David Plates—The Story of David and Goliath. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. Download the resource.
Norris, Michael. Medieval Art: A Resource for Educators. Also available in print; New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. Download the resource.
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers: The Art of Medieval Europe (PDF)
"Silver Plate with David and Goliath [Byzantine] (17.190.396)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006) (Entry includes a number of additional resources.)
Plate with the Presentation of David to Saul, 629–30
Byzantine, made in Constantinople
Diam. 10 11/16 x 1 9/16 in. (27.2 x 4 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.397)
Marco del Buono Giamberti (Italian, Florentine, 1402–1489) and Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (Italian, Florentine, 1415/17–1465)
The Story of Esther, 1460–70
Tempera and gold on wood
17 1/2 x 55 3/8 in. (44.5 x 140.7 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.117.2)
Author: Adapted from A Masterwork of Byzantine Art: The David Plates—The Story of David and Goliath
Affiliation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art