RSS

Judith and the Not-So-Big One

30 Jul

Before we leave the subject of Caravaggio entirely, here is something rather sad.

Caravaggio or Finson, “Judith With The Head Of Holofernes,” 1607, Oil on canvas, 140 x 160 cm, Collezione Banca Commerciale Italiana, Naples, Italy

After all the hoop-la about (insert trumpets here) Caravaggio, this specimen is rather … drab.  It is essentially the same composition as the version of 1598, but missing some of the finer details.

  • Yes, the soon-to-be-severed head of Holofernes is screaming in terror and pain – but his blood is slowly seeping versus spraying from his wound.
  • Yes, the maid is old – not not nearly as old as before.  and she stands between Judith and the victim, whispering her encouragement, much more a part of the action than a patient by-stander.
  • Yes, Judith looks concerned – but not as simultaneously revolted and determined as before.

In fact, Judith is very different than the previous portrayal. she is older than the youthful widow — thinner in the face, less energetic.  She is dressed somberly — as if in mourning — in a black robe with long sleeves and a hood rather than wearing a gleaming gold gown with exposed bosom and uncovered curls.

What happened in those 9 years? Caravaggio’s bad boy ways caught up with him:  he killed a man in a brawl and fled from Rome to Naples.  The disarray of his life seems to have diminished the colors of his palette, and the criticism of the vulgarity of his realism may have caused him to tone down his characters. especially at the request of a high-paying patron.  It is also possible that this is not the work of Caravaggio, but a copy of his lost original (1).  Which is why it has been in and out of my catalog.

Original or not, it is still Judith beheading Holofernes. So here it stays. with all the other works tagged the cut to indicate they show Judith in the act of severing Holofernes’ head — the criterion being that the fauchion has been applied but at least part of the neck is still attached. and there is usually lots of blood, although that’s not a required element.

(1) John T. Spike, Caravaggio, Abbeville Press, 2010 (2nd ed.); www.johntspike.com
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

August 19, 2011:  stop the presses.   I found conflicting information.   Over at Open Book Publishers, they identify this painting as the work of Louis Finson — a Flemish painter who may have studied with Caravaggio and certainly copied numerous paintings by Caravaggio.

Do you think it is possible that the Bank of Naples does not know they have a copy??!  Anyone willing to stop by there and ask??

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

For something a bit more fun, experience a hilarious take on some of the upcoming works at: Judy Gets Some Head, by Christopher Moore

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Cacciatore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One response to “Judith and the Not-So-Big One

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: