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Judith with the Head of Holofernes
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Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description According to the Book of Judith, the Jewish widow Judith saved the Israelites from the Assyrians by decapitating their general Holofernes, whose army had besieged her city. She did this after having made him drunk at a banquet. Judith is commonly depicted as being assisted by an older maidservant in placing the head in a sack. The contrast between Holofernes's crude features and the heroine's beauty underlines the moral message of the eventual triumph of virtue over evil. The Bolognese painter Elisabetta Sirani based her style on that of Guido Reni (1575-1642), who was admired for his idealized depictions of women, as in his Penitent Magdalene (Walters 37.2631). This painting is close to her style but it also appears to owe something to that of her father Giovanni Andrea Sirani.
Date Description Narrative
1/01/1971Examinationexamined for condition
8/02/1971Treatmentcleaned; coated; inpainted; lined; other; varnish removed or reduced; x-ray
12/08/1982Treatmentvarnish removed or reduced
6/24/1985Examinationexamined for loan
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
  • Old Mistresses: Women Artists of the Past. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1972.
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1897 catalogue: no. 515, as Ferbis]; 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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1638-1665 (Baroque)
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
Painted surface H: 51 x W: 36 1/8 in. (129.5 x 91.7 cm)


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