Judith in a Red Sash

27 Sep

Here is Judith in a brilliant red sash.  And nothing else – except a skirt that is impossibly thin.   Standing in front of an impossibly pink drape.

Paul Albert Steck , “Judith,” 1885, Oil on canvas, private collection

This is the work of Paul Albert Streck, an Academic French artist at the Fin de siècle.   He was a student of Jean-Léon Gérôme, who produced some of the most luminous paintings of history, myth and Oriental subjects of that period.   As a girl, I was entranced by Mythology, and Gérôme’s depiction of Pygmalion and Galatea caught my attention for its fanciful theme.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, “Pygmalion and Galatea,” 1865-70, oil on canvas, 88.9 x 68.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, USA

But back to Judith.   Not one of my favorite portrayals of her.   If you recall, I was looking for righteous anger and powerful retribution – which is entirely missing here.    Without a doubt, it is a beautiful painting of a woman, but she looks like a simpering concubine who just happened to find a severed head.   “Eeeuw!  who left that on my new tiger skin rug??”   No sword, no blood, no triumph.   Except for the head, how do I even know this is Judith?

Plus, the pink drape is making me wonder about Holofernes’ taste in decor …

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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Whorey


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