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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Judith makes a scene

Why is this guy so hard to pin down?  The last time I tried to positively identify one of his works, I chased my tail for days.  Now I have three paintings in my lap and they all seem to have the same title.  It is not really Preti’s fault.  Maybe I will just blame him.

Sometimes called Il Cavalier Calabrese (the Knight of Calabria), Preti’s work represents late Baroque style that is characterized by “exaggerated lighting, intense emotions, release from restraint, and even a kind of artistic sensationalism.”   Baroque art did not depict the life style of ordinary people, but “melodramatically reaffirmed the emotional depths of the Catholic faith and glorified both church and monarchy” in their power and influence (1).  That is a lofty agenda.  And Preti carried it out in numerous locations, concluding in Malta.

(Side note:  Malta because – like Caravaggio – he was a Knight of Grace in the Order of St John but that is another long and fascinating story I will save for another time).

Preti painted the subject of Judith numerous times.   First, in the tent with the headless body and then multiple times showing the head to the crowd in Bethulia – which is how he ended up in this section.

First, I submit the full crowd scene.  (With many thanks to dbykowski, who seems to be the only person to ever capture this image.)

Mattia Preti, “Judith showing the Head of Holophernes to the Betulians, 17th century, National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, Malta

The city councilman on the far left seems very concerned about how Judith accomplished this.  As if he does not believe she was capable and maybe found Holofernes’ head by the side of the road.  No really, I lopped this sucker off his inebriated body myself.  

Second, a side view of the crowd scene – compliments of le Ministère de la Culture du France.

Mattia Preti, “Judith presents the head of Holofernes.” c. 1660, Oil on canvas, 239 x 209 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chambéry, France

In this version, Judith seems a little more detached – a little more pissed off.   It is his head, and you can see by his expression that he was not happy to part with it.  But take it or leave it.  I need a hot toddy and an bath.

And finally, a full frontal view.   Shared by Caravaggio.com in the section on German museums.

Mattia Preti, “Judith with the head of Holofernes,” 17th century, Oil on canvas, 194.5 x 144 cm, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany

At this conjecture, Judith has had enough and equipped with the sword to make her point.  Seriously – if you are going to doubt that I charmed my way in, got him stinking drunk and then held him by the hair while I whacked off his head, then maybe you would like a demonstration.

(1) Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith. The Making of the West (third ed.). Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.  2010, pp. 469

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Unbelievable.  Un-be-LIEV-a-ble.  I considered buying a book about Preti.  And my book search gave me — John T. Spike, Mattia Preti: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings (English and Italian Edition) (Hardcover).  For the Amazon price of (hold your breath$1,249.99 for “Used – Very Good” and $3,489.75 for “Used – Like New.”

Oh wait … I forgot to add $3.99 for shipping.

I think I might drive to the library to see if I can borrow their copy.


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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Glory

 

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Judith brings home the prize

Perhaps you remember Elizabetta Sirani.  She is the female artist who worked herself to death from bleeding ulcers.  So next time your family or your boss is on your last nerve, you may want to remind them of this story.

Elizabetta Sirani, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1658, Oil on canvas, 93 x 72 in, Lakeview Museum of Arts and Science, Peoria, Illinois, USA

Once again we have Judith surrounded by children.   I guess before movies and television, the most exciting thing in town was public torture and execution.   It is not every day that Aunt Judith brings home a head in a bag of meat.   So at least we have violent media to thank for keeping our kids away from public dismemberment.  Except those events only happened once in a while back in the day (I hope) while violence is broadcast to us 24/7 by television, dvd, computer and hand-held devices in odorless formats.

So in that spirit, gather ’round kiddies!  Here is your gasp at a decapitated head for the next few months.  Until the skin rots away and you cannot stand the smell anymore.

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Another website where more art of Sirani is displayed is MISS: Art HERstory.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Glory

 

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Judith puts her best foot forward

This composition is noteworthy because there is no dangling head.     Yet.

Francesco Curradi, “The Triumph of Judith,” 1620-30, oil on canvas, 232 x 292 cm, Musée des Augustins, Toulouse , France

It appears Judith has just returned and is doing a little glad-handing before she waves around her trophy.   For the moment, the head is in the basket, covered by a cloth – and the kids have not yet figured it out.   Boy-howdy, are they in for a surprise.

Also of interest, Judith is making an effort to show some leg.   Rather than allowing her skirt to drop naturally, she has hiked it up to show her boot and her blue hosiery. Could be a fashion statement, could be a not-so-subtle come-on to the elders, or could be a product placement for the manufacturer.

When I go out to assassinate tyrrants, I put my best foot forward in Calzolaio and
Calzetteria
 shoes and stockings.  The most comfortable leather, the most colorful hosiery you can buy in Bethulia.  Always a stand-out for style and a stand-up for durability.  Calzolaio and Calzetteria – when you want to slay them with your sophistication.”

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Story

 

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Now for something completely different (XIX)

This is when goggles would have been a good idea.

A Date With Judy (1950, vol. 19)

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For something really watery, there is Judy Carne – The Sock-It-To-Me Girl – in the first two seasons of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1969).

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in something completely different

 

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Judith goes exploring (v)

Seems like upstate New York should be closer to NYC – but it’s not.  It’s more like part of Canada, eh?

Day 36:  So a flight to Toronto would be the best start on this leg.   Headed to the Gardiner Museum to view maiolica from Castel Durante.   This is the only museum in Canada devoted exclusively to ceramic art, so I hope to leave my klutzy-self in the states.

Mon – Thurs: 10 am – 6 pm;  Fri:  10 am – 9 pm;   Sat-Sun10 am – 5 pm

Then renting a car will mean a 2 hour drive to Buffalo – unless they frisk me at the border.

Day 37:   Buffalo is the home of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, full of contemporary art.   I hope to be able to locate Meri Grube, creator of the crotched Judith.   I mean crocheted.  Damn that autocorrect!

Mon – closed;  Tues-Sun10 am – 5 pm

Another one and a half hours in the car will bring me to Rochester, to the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester that houses Solimena‘s The Triumph of Judith.    Also Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Homer, Cassatt and Picasso’s Flowers in a Blue Vase  –  stolen during a busy Sunday afternoon in 1978 – and mysterious returned a few weeks later.  Makes you go hmmmm.

Mon-Tues: closed;  Wed-Sun11 am – 5 pm;   Thurs:  11 am – 9 pm

One more hour and a half of driving lands me on Syracuse for an early morning start …

Day 38: … at the Syracuse University Art Galleries (aka SUArt) where I can behold a Cranach.   I can also spend a reflective moment at the memorial wall to the 35 Syracuse students killed by a terrorist bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988.   They would be in their mid-forties this year …

Mon – closed;  Tues-Sun: 11 am – 4:30 pm;  Thurs:  11 am – 8 pm

Back in the car for a 4 and a half hour drive into French-speaking Quebec and …

Day 39:    … Montreal.   which is kind of like going to Europe for non-adventurous Yanks.   And the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal.    As I practice my limited Francais, I can ponder the largest art theft in Canadian history – worth $11 million today – that has never been recovered.    At least they left Mantegna‘s Judith with Her Maidservant Abra.    

Mon – closed;  Tues: 11 am – 5 pm;  Wed-Fri:  11 am – 9 pm;   Sat-Sun10 am – 5 pm


 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Exploring

 

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Judith entertains the children

Is it just me, or does anyone find it strange that two small children are in the foreground — one pointing with glee and the other clapping his hands with excitement at the sight of a severed head?

Stefano Erardi, “Judith beheading Holoferenes,” 17th century, Oil on Canvas, Daniel Azzopardi Antiques & Fine Arts, Valletta, Malta

Or a third one is off to the side, ready to catch the head like a wedding bouquet?

Makes me wonder what they do for entertainment on the other days.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Borderline Boring

 

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Judith excites the crowd

Abraham Bloemaert, "Judith presents Holofernes' head to the people," 1593, oil on oakwood, 34.5 x 44.5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

TA-DA!!!

Judith:   And now what you have all been waiting for – Holofernes’ head!
Man in Orange Hat:   Look! look!  If I hold this lantern closer, can you all see?
Woman in back:   It would help if you would move your big, fat aars.
Man in Orange Jumpsuit:   Don’t worry, I can hold this light up front.  Except … shut the front door!  She just grabbed my geslachtsdelen!!
Other Man in Orange Jumpsuit:   Dude!  Keep it down.  The guards is looking for us to get back to gevangenis.  You can get your sekse back some other time.
Man with the Beard:   I can’t hear what she is saying.  Did she say she gave Holofernes head?
Man in Orange Hat:   No, she said he is dead.
Man in Yellow Toga:   Mmm. But the way she is holding him by the hair is making me wellustig. I wonder if she would meet me later for a little rol in het hooi?
Woman with Orange Braid:   Oh, you men are all alike.  To think we spent the night here because we heard there was a Dead Head concert and the opening act was Judith Holofernes.  Now I have a pain in my halslengte and I am deathly verkoudheid.
Man in her lap:  Wait a minute – did that naked chick just say she took Holofernes to bed and then cut off his head?   I’ve heard of women being ontevreden but, dude, that’s harsh.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Glory

 

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