Judith in the dark

23 Sep

Have mercy, can it get any darker?    I am worried if the one little candle goes out, someone is likely to drop the head.   And when it rolls away in the deep blackness, then what?

Antoine Coypel, “Judith And Holofernes,” c.1681-1720, oil on canvas, 23 x 18 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s 12/14/2000 (Lot 227)

I will say this:  Judith looks very strong in this depiction – both physically and mentally.  Holding the sword upright, she appears to be alert, capable and prepared.

But her face indicates doubt or anxiety about the moment in which she finds herself.   She looks into the darkness behind the head of the maid.

  • Perhaps recalling – “That tent is where we left the body”  and hoping to create some distance.
  • Her concern could be temporal.  With the understanding that she cannot make time go back, now that the deed is done  –  “It was just moments ago he was snoring like a wild boar. (sigh) I miss that gut-wrenching nasal melody.”
  • Maybe she is reacting to the maid placing the head under her elbow – “How many times have I told you – no decaying body parts under my arm.  It seriously limits my range of motion and could cause a rash.”
  • Or she may sense there is danger in that direction.

No problem. She still has the sword.   And once they blow that candle out, who can find them anyway?

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Story


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