Judith and genetics

07 Oct

After the Gentileschi’s, another father-daughter team.

By the time she was 12 years old, Fede Galizia was such a proficient artist that painter and art theorist Gian Paolo Lomazzo wrote of her:  “This girl dedicates herself to imitate our most extraordinary art (1).”  Must have been a genetic thing.  Fede was an established portrait painter with many commissions at a young age, probably due to the attention to detail of jewels and clothing that evolved from training by her father, Nunzio Galizia – a miniaturist.   She was often commissioned to paint religious themes as well as portraits, and her paintings of Judith and Holofernes survive in several private collections.   Perhaps her earliest was Judith and her handmaiden, shown here – all blown up.

Fede Galizia, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes, “1596, oil on canvas, 116.8 x 9.2 cm, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, USA

Wow. That IS a lot of detail.

It is speculated that this is a portrait of Fede herself.   Whoever it is, the attention to the fabric and the jewels is remarkable.   Even in a computer copy of a photographic copy.   Each pearl.  Each lace on her dress.  Imagine the attention that was given to each hair on her head.

But what is up with the expression of the maid?   Like she is rethinking Judith’s up-do.  Or examining a hickey from the night before.  Or perhaps thinking that decapitation might be a way to get out from under this slavery gig.

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

One more thing about Galizia: she is credited as the first artist to paint a still life.  Imagine – there was life before still lives.

(1)  Gian Paolo Lomazzo, Idea del tempio della pittura, Milan 1590, p. 163, “dandosi all’imitation de i più eccellenti dell’arte nostra.”

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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Cacciatore


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