This artwork is based on the well-known biblical story that inspired numerous artists for many centuries. Normally Judith is depicted as a person that is fully sure in rightfulness of her action. To the contrary, my Judith is full of doubts and she even feels sorry… An action was done in the gust of anger, and now comes comprehension…
I have chosen quiet silver-green-grey colours for this work, so that they do not come into conflict with numerous decorative elements in the upper half of the painting, which symbolise the thoughts going through the Judith’s head. In my interpretation Judith is only a woman, she has her doubts, she is sorry, she is worried and tries to understand if her action was right or wrong…
This artwork is made with use of complicated author’s technique of batik and painting. This artwork is painted on the natural silk cloth with professional German silk paints, batik textile dyes, waxes, etc. (KREUL Javana). The paint is water based, has no smell, and is fade and wash resistant (after fixing).
Judith is part of “Women’s Whims” series, in which “whims are often mysterious and unpredictable and sometimes intelligible and rather straight forward.” You decide which is which –
Of course, you found that slutty Salome. She just can’t help sticking her nose into everything …
After The Canterbury Tales discussed yesterday, William Russell Flint (1880-1969) continued to illustrate color-plate books through 1929 in an oriental style. While still technically excellent, some of the warmth and romanticism was diminished from this earlier work. This is especially evident in Judith and Tobit and Susanna. (1)
Judith (1928) was limited to 875 copies, issued by The Haymarket Press. With contents on handmade paper, it contains four lithograph illustrations by Flint. It can still be found on sale by antique booksellers.
Although these images may be considered inferior to Flint’s earlier work because they are missing the sumptuous backgrounds, in their simplicity they still capture the beauty of the female figure and the drama of Judith’s encounter with Holofernes.
Filed under “Things I Never Knew” and “How Did I Find That Out?”
Judith is mentioned in the one of the first greatest writings of the English language, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
And … there is a version of The Canterbury Tales that is beautifully illustrated by Sir William Russell Flint, P.R.W.S., R.A. (1880-1969)
The Canterbury Tales (written between 1387 and 1400) are presented as a story-telling contest within a group of travelers on a pilgrimage from London to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The tales are told in ten Fragments, in which tales are closely related and contain indications of presentation order, usually with one character speaking to and then stepping aside for another character. In Fragment VII, Judith appears in The Tale of Melibee – one of the longest and most boring of all the tales. In this tale, Melibee and Dame Prudence (his wife) debate how to seek retribution from an enemy who beat her and their daughter – using many proverbs and quotes from learned authorities and the Bible tomake their points. Melibee makes five points and Dame Prudence rebutes –
When Dame Prudence, very debonairly and with great patience, had heard all that her husband was pleased to say, then she asked of him permission to speak, and said in this manner:
… And truly, as to your fifth reason, where you say that in wicked advice women vanquish men, God knows, that reason has no value here. For understand now, you ask advice to do wickedness; and if you will do wickedness, and your wife restrains that wicked purpose, and overcomes you by reason and by good advice, certainly your wife ought rather to be praised than blamed … Judith by her good advice delivered the city of Bethulia, in which she dwelled, out of the hands of Holofernus, who had besieged it and would have entirely destroyed it.
By the way, Dame Prudence wins the debate in the end.
Fast forward to 1913.
The Medici Society published an illustrated edition of the Tales in three volumes, with thirty-six plates by William Russell Flint (1880-1969). Flint was already famous for his watercolors of the female form. “These illustrations show the appeal of stories about medieval women–an appeal which should probably be set in the context of such artistic movements as the Pre-Raphaelites, the Arts and Crafts movement, Aestheticism, and Art Nouveau.” (1)
Flint’s work bares a striking resemblance to the Orientalists and to the Pre-Raphaelites, who both flourished from 1850 into the early 20th century and who I have admired. And I have admitted several times to a soft spot for illustration, appealing to the romantic in me. So no surprise that I find this Judith to be enchanting, with her thick braid of hair that is complimented by her heavy gold adornments. She demurely looks away from the severed head – either distancing herself from the violence or preparing for her next move. But she stands in full view with a simple gown and shawl of resplendent color. A breath-taking depiction for one line in a very long story.
I have heard the phrase “If the walls had ears …” but in this case the walls have toothy grimaces.
And Judith takes the foreground with Holofernes’ head on a platter as if she is ready for a Fourth of July picnic.
Seems appropriate for today.
Keri Oldham employs watercolor on a large scale “to depict bloodied tableaus inspired by folk art, mythology, medieval demonology and fantasy. Her paintings are modern allegories for women’s continued fight for success and identity in modern life.” Her series “Blood Banner” depicts both the demons that form our nightmares and the heroines who slay them: Red Riding Hood, Judith and others. Judith is depicted in both of these as a domestic goddess – attired in a sleeveless summer dress and wearing a kerchief over her tidy hair. The bloody falchion stands in the background and Judith’s dress bears the blood spatter of her deed.
It is unclear why this version has a gutted alligator on the wall (was Holofernes hidding inside? was Holofernes an actual serpent?), but that adds to the sense of Americana. I mean, what could be more American than violence?
Margaret Agnes Rope (1882-1953) was a stained glass artist in the Arts and Crafts movement tradition of first four decades of the 20th century. She trained at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art until 1909 and then worked from home on the large west window of Shrewsbury Cathedral, the first of seven she did there. In 1923, she became a Carmelite nun, Sister Margaret of the Mother of God, and continued to execute stain glass. She is credited with about 60 windows, typified by strong colors, jewelled intensity and consummate glass painting skills.
After Rosalind Garrard bought a house in Church Stretton in south Shropshire a short time ago, she decided to refurbish the bathroom, and the stained-glass panel (see pic below) that was in the window-frame was extracted. Curious to see what would happen, she then placed the piece on the internet sales site, eBay, where, by pure chance, it was recognised by an art-history researcher. The researcher identified it a student work by Margaret Agnes Rope.
When Ms Garrard told her story to the BBC, she admitted she was baffled asto how it came to be in her bathroom: “The previous owner could not tell me why it was there, and I can only presume it has been there in situ since it was made. Experts tell me that it is a student exercise, and was probably completed around 1908. I understand that what I had placed on eBay for a nominal sum turns out to be a very valuable piece indeed!”
Judith & Holofernes is probably the first full-scale stained-glass piece done by Margaret; it is life-size, dating possibly to 1908. Though created as a student piece, she would have been around 25 when she made it, and it bears the influence of her teacher, the great Henry Payne.
I am sure the computer image of this artwork does not do it justice and it comes to life in person. But even as a flat image, Scott Fischer has created an arresting portrait of the strength of Judith.
In the words of the artist –
The legendary Judith, beheading Holofernes, taking destiny into her own hands. Diving deep into my obsession with lines, hatched in carefully controlled value ranges, as a vehicle to lead you through a piece. Keeping your eyes swimming. This painting is on copper, and as part of the process I engrave down through the paint in select areas to the metal below. The final mesmerizing effect makes for a piece that can only truly be appreciated in person, for it will change as light reflects when you walk by.
Quarantine. Aren’t we all tired of quarantine? Apparently Judith has had enough and is ready to flee Bethulia for a new place to shelter-in. So she has packed-up her suitcase and is ready to go. What do you suppose is in there …?
yes, the title says my name is "Judith, to you." and it's as arrogant as it sounds. that's what happens when a giggley little girl is bestowed a heavy-weight name like Judith. but it's time to own my name. to be Shakespearean and wonder "What's in a name?" to learn about the artwork inspired by the name. to contemplate how a widow in a gleaming gown can decapitate a brute - and not muss her nails. join me in the bumpy ride through history and art and social change, all in the name of Judith.