Judith Cutting Off the Head of Holofernes1640
According to the Book of Judith in the Catholic Old Testament, the virtuous widow Judith saved her people when the military commanders failed to lift a siege by the Assyrians. She beguiled the enemy General Holofernes into getting drunk and cut off his head. The artist heightened the drama by contrasting Judith's serene determination with the amazement and horror exploding from the general's face. Portraying his head upside down emphasizes Holofernes' defeat and evokes the reversal of societal norms in a woman's victory over a strong man. By the 1620s, Trophime Bigot (ca. 1579-1650, also known as Master of the Candlelight) was in Rome, where he studied the paintings of Caravaggio (1571-1610). The Italian master had introduced often brutal, naturalistic, close-up scenes lit by a single light source. In this powerful baroque composition, the candle's light concentrates the drama around the clear diagonal movement back from Holofernes's straining arm.
- H: 49 1/2 x W: 77 1/2 in. (125.7 x 196.8 cm)
- oil on canvas
- Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum
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