Judith and the cliff-hanger

12 Sep

From Antiveduto Grammatica, I have two paintings of Judith asking “What do we do now?

First, the full figure of Judith and the maid – with Holofernes tucked away in the lower left corner.

Antiveduto Grammatica, “Judith and Holophernes,” 1600–1620, Oil on canvas, 190 x 159 cm, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, England, UK

As the maid holds the bag for Judith, there seems to be an urgency – hurry, someone is coming.   It is difficult to determine:  are Judith and the maid looking at each other?   Or is the maid looking out of the entrance for someone coming in, and Judith looking over the maid’s shoulder at a sound?    Wherever they are looking, the tension is obvious – the uncertainty is visible.

Second is the close-up.   A more subtle view of the indecision in the aftermath of the decapitation.

Antiveduto Grammatica,”Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1591 c.-1624 c., Oil on canvas, 120 x 93 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s 6/9/2011 (Lot 24)

In this setting, the maid seems to be the one with the ideas.    Her face is in the shadow of her cowl, but she appears to be speaking – urging Judith to the next step:  she holds the torch that will lead the way.   In contrast, Judith is in full light and holds the head in the basket, but her gaze is downcast – pensive and hesitant.   I was prepared up to this point but now i’m not so sure.

It is the cliff-hanger moment in the movie.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Story


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One response to “Judith and the cliff-hanger

  1. lentonist

    June 19, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Just seen the first of these two Grammatica paintings today at the museum in Derby and of course thought of this blog. Sure enough it’s already here!


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