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Judith Cutting Off the Head of Holofernes
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Judith Cutting Off the Head of Holofernes


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description 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.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
6/26/1974Treatmentx-ray; mounted; cleaned
Exhibitions
  • Going for Baroque. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1995-1996.
  • Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000.
  • Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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Period
ca. 1640 (Baroque)
Medium
oil on panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
37.653
Measurements
H: 49 1/2 x W: 77 1/2 in. (125.7 x 196.8 cm)
Geographies

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