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We don't know much about Cavallino. He was an Italian, born in Naples. There
are only eight paintings remaining that are signed by him. It is possible that
some of his paintings were sold with other artists' signatures on them. He
preferred doing small paintings and he liked to paint religious figures and
scenes from the Bible. Sometimes he painted characters from Roman mythology.
In the 1600's a disease called bubonic plague killed thousands of people in
Europe. It is thought that Cavallino died in the plague in 1656. In the
painting David Playing Before Saul we see David, the shepherd boy, who was
also a musician, playing to help to soothe the troubled mind of King Saul.
When David played Saul felt better. Today we might refer to this as "music
therapy". Later Saul would become jealous of David because David became very
popular with the people. David also became Saul's son-in-law through his
marriage to Saul's daughter, Michael. David was a good friend to Jonathan.
Possibly the young man nearest Saul represents his son, Jonathan. The artist
highlights David by showing him in white clothing and making his features