Subsequent to the Stockholm Exhibition of 1917, the Näfveqvarn foundry's manager, Alfred Dybsö, approached the Swedish Craftsmen's Association with the proposal that young artists, designers and architects offer designs for works in cast-iron. The first work to be exhibited was an urn, 'Venus Rising', created by the sculptor Ivar Johnsson. This and subsequent prize-winning designs were exhibited at the Göteborg Exhibition of 1923, establishing the foundry at the centre of a creative renaissance of iron casting. In 1925 the foundry was awarded the Grand Prix for the decoration of the entrance and the garden of the Swedish Pavillion at the Paris Exposition. Designed by the architect Carl Bergsten, the pavillion featured Johnsson's magnificent 'David' bronze sculpture, and gardens designed by Folke Bensow.
Ivam Johnsson was at the vanguard of the Swedish Neo-Classical movement that reached its apogée with the 1925 Paris Exposition. In 1927 an important exhibition of Swedish decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of New York also featured highly acclaimed exhibits by the Näfveqvarn foundry. Described by the British art critic Morton Shand as the period of 'Swedish Grace', Neo-Classicism lasted until the early 1930s when concepts of Modernism and Functionalism began to assert as the dominant aesthetic.
A second version of David was commissioned by the city of Zurich, 1925.