Judith is lost in translation

24 Aug

I wish this image was just a little bit bigger because there appears to be some interesting things going on.

Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1626, oil on canvas, 40.5 x 47.5 cm, Norton Museum, Palm Beach, Florida, USA

I am happy to say that this lovely piece by Guerrieri was auctioned in 2008 and purchased by the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, Florida.   I don’t know why that makes me so happy — only that after years of floating around Europe, she can enjoy the Gilded Age glamour of a resort community.

Once again, there is the bloody stump but it is in the shadow behind Judith, who is in the lighted forefront.   She has the pose I tend to consider “Triumphant Display” — aka the excitement of “Look what i got!!.”    There are numerous Judith’s in this pose – some in the tent, some in the countryside during the return to Bethulia, some in the public square.    In each setting, the Triumphant Display offers a slightly different message.   Within the tent, it conveys Judith’s surprise and elation – as if to say to herself and the viewer “OMG – can you believe  i was actually able to rip off his head?”

Except … now she has to sneak out with a bloody mess and make it back home.

I did try to trace Guerrieri’s history, and a funny thing happened on the way to the art forum.   I found the book by art historian Andrea Emiliani, Giovanni Francesco Gurerrieri Da Fossombrone, in an online version — but in Italian.    No problem, I just asked Google to translate.   And this is what i got:

“The choice of the boy artist, going straight to Rome, is the only appropriate and commendable … In these parts to do was to feed on sweet juices almost exhausted in the heat of a different equality of nature and soul, which is distilled in the rooms of Barocci, via San Giovanni in Urbino. Too polite, too well that that language was chosen struck the landscape of the first autobiography in the sign of Christ’s passion. The temperament of a young man, born just 89, also called for the search for a confrontation with external reality, the harshness of life.” (1)

Feed on sweet juices?  Born just 89?  Okay. so Google translation is not perfect.

(1) Andrea Emiliani

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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Gory


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