Judith beheading Holofernes is a biblical story that has inspired countless works of art and literature over the centuries. The story is found in the Book of Judith, which is part of the Old Testament of the Bible. According to the story, Holofernes was a powerful and cruel military leader who was sent by the king of Assyria to conquer the city of Bethulia in ancient Palestine. Judith, a beautiful and courageous woman from Bethulia, decided to take action to save her city from the invading army.
Judith went to the camp of Holofernes and pretended to be a prostitute in order to gain access to his tent. Once inside, she was able to win his trust and convince him to let down his guard. When Holofernes was drunk and asleep, Judith took a sword and beheaded him, thereby fulfilling a divine command to deliver her people from the oppressor. She then returned to Bethulia with the head of Holofernes as proof of her victory.
The story of Judith beheading Holofernes has been interpreted in many different ways over the years. Some see it as a story of faith and devotion, as Judith trusts in God and takes bold action to save her people. Others see it as a story of feminine strength and cunning, as Judith uses her intelligence and beauty to outmaneuver a powerful man. Still others see it as a story of political intrigue and resistance, as Judith and the people of Bethulia stand up against the tyrannical rule of the Assyrian empire.
Regardless of how one interprets the story, it is clear that Judith beheading Holofernes has had a lasting impact on art and literature. The story has been depicted in paintings, sculptures, and other works of art throughout the centuries, and has inspired countless writers and poets to explore its themes and characters. As such, it continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration for people all over the world.
Judith Beheading Holofernes
But the masterstroke of this particular composition is the complicity of her maidservant Abra, who stuffs the grimly green head of Holofernes into the bag as the pair seek their escape from the Assyrian enemy. This is the period of the When Rubens began commissioning reproductive prints of his work, the first was an engraving by Judith Slaying Holofernes 1606—1610. When Artemisia was 13, the turbulent Caravaggio, her greatest and most enduring artistic influence, had to flee Rome, having stabbed a man to death in a brawl: Caravaggio, a man of the streets and alleys and a connoisseur of low life, always carried a dagger. So says Judith, a young Jew from Bethulia, in the bible when she describes her heroic act that freed the people of Israel from the siege by Nebuchadnezzar's army. Artemisia Gentileschi: the image of the female hero in Italian Baroque Art.
Judith was an especially popular figure in the Middle Ages. The Artemisia Files: Artemisia Gentileschi for Feminists and Other Thinking People. These rankings are canonical, and cannot be disputed. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: A Global History 14th edition. The figures are set out in a shallow stage, theatrically lit from the side, isolated against the inky black background. . Sandro Botticelli, circa 1470 Lyta: MAIDSERVANT: Why do I have to carry this fucking head everywhere.
Femme fatale — Faszinierende Frauen". In European art, Judith is very often accompanied by her maid at her shoulder, which helps to distinguish her from Judith with the Head of Holofernes 1613 In the late Renaissance, Judith changed considerably, a change described as a "fall from grace"—from an image of The Return of Judith to Bethulia 1470—1472 , Judiths, showed a more sexualized Judith, a "seducer-assassin": "the very clothes that had been introduced into the iconography to stress her chastity become sexually charged as she exposes the gory head to the shocked but fascinated viewer", in the words of art critic femme fatale. Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2006. After eating and drinking, Holofernes, now drunk, fell asleep on his bed, allowing Judith to seize her chance to draw her scimitar and strike the deadly blow. I'll Make You Shorter by a Head Judith I, and part of a series of paintings called Fallen Angels. Holofernes' body slumps over and his head is still attached to his body. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
The Wonders of Engraving. Solid military strategy, Assyrians. JUDITH: Matches my fucking cape. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Judith sweeps Holofernes's head into a basket showing a look of swiftness about her.
By the late Renaissance, depictions of Judith had become more seductive and aggressive. She seems eager to see what directions Judith will give her next. The tale is told in the Old Testament Book of Judith. Artemisia was then given lessons by another artist, another friend of her well-connected father, highly regarded in his day, Agostino Tassi. Retrieved September 27, 2021. Judith's maid Abra stands beside her mistress to the right as Judith extends her arm to hold a blade against Holofernes's neck; lying on his stomach, neck contorted as he turns his head towards his assassin, he is vulnerable.
While this archetype has always existed in art and literature popular femmes fatales include Author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, for example, referenced the narrative of Judith as an appealing example of sadomasochism in his 1870 novel Venus in Furs. After reciting a long prayer to God, she dons her finest clothes in order to seduce him. The Power of Women: A "Topos" in Medieval Art and Literature. Holofernes, on his bed, powerful but drunk, nude, and bellowing helplessly, has frozen in the futile struggle of his last instant of consciousness. Furthermore, Artemisia did not shy away from adding the gory detail of blood spurting so profusely as to stain Judith's breast. This painting, now in Detroit, Michigan, is one of four devoted to this subject by the Italian Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi: the others are in Florence, Naples and Cannes.
RANKED: 10 Paintings of Judith Beheading Holofernes
In particular, the story provides the ideal template for the exploration of the power of female virtue, beauty, and power. Montias 1999 , Public and Private Spaces: Works of Art in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Houses, p. After Holofernes has drank enough wine to become intoxicated, Judith decapitates him with his own sword, winning a decisive victory for the Israelites. In Search of the Total Artwork. Painting by Caravaggio Judith Beheading Holofernes Italian: Giuditta e Oloferne Artist Year c.
In 1612, when she was 17, he was accused of raping her. Studies in iconology: humanistic themes in the art of the Renaissance. In the Book of Judges, Jael similarly kills the Canaanite general Sisera by first inviting him to her tent, serving him milk, and then driving a tent peg through his temple. Sacred Spring: God and the Birth of Modernism in Fin de Siècle Vienna. In doing so, she has saved Israel from its oppressor.
It is a ghastly image, with primary interest in the protagonists' states of mind: the old woman's grim satisfaction, Holofernes's shock, and Judith's sense of determination. Starting in the early 1500s, artists transformed her from a relatively simply dressed goddess figure into an elaborately adorned noblewoman. Struck by her beauty, the Assyrian general invited her to a lavish banquet in his tent. Retrieved 7 December 2011. But she also shows the brutality of the act by surrounding Judith and her maid with deeply dark shadows. Today, this painting also represents the human and professional tale of a woman who chose to be an artist in an era dominated by men; in this she succeeded, working in the courts of Rome, Florence and Naples, traveling to England and finally becoming the first woman to enter the Academy of Art and Design in Florence.