Monthly Archives: December 2011

Judith makes a wish

On the eve of Christmas, I wish you a happy celebration of love and peace with this message from a famous Judy:

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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Story


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Judith, Glanna and Gloriana

Judith is obviously the leader of this group – dragging Holofernes’ head along the ground.

Harry Clarke, “Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,/Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana.” 1917, Glass panels acided, stained and painted, 47.3 x 113 cm, auctioned by Christies 5/21/1997 (Lot 65)

This beautiful stained glass window was one of a set of nine commission by The Rt Hon Laurence Waldron PC to accompany the poem Queens by J.M. Synge.   The set was to be hung from left to right in the library windows of Waldron’s Killiney Bay house.   Panel was wax and acid-etched out of flashed ruby or gold-pink pot-metal glass in addition to being stained and painted.

These are no ordinary windows, because the subject matter is literary rather than religious.  This depiction of Judith is about her position as a heroine over tyranny of any kind, and places her next to Gloriana – the name given to Queen Elizabeth I in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene  (although the Queen of Glanna is a mystery).   She is once again portrayed as bold and determined.   The brilliant reds heighten the emotion of this portrait but the delicate patterns of the gowns retains the romance.

If only Judith could find a way to keep her bodice from slipping down, she would not seem quite so … brazen.   I know, one of the other girls did it too but (sigh) she does not always have to follow the slutty one in the crowd.

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Queens, by J.M. Synge (1902)

Seven dog-days we let pass
Naming Queens in Glenmacnass,
All the rare and royal names
Wormy sheepskin yet retains,
Etain, Helen, Maeve, and Fand,
Golden Deirdre’s tender hand,
Bert, the big-foot, sung by Villon,
Cassandra, Ronsard found in Lyon.
Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught,
Coifed with crown, or gaudy bonnet,
Queens whose finger once did stir men,
Queens were eaten of fleas and vermin,
Queens men drew like Monna Lisa,
Or slew with drugs in Rome and Pisa,
We named Lucrezia Crivelli,
And Titian’s lady with amber belly,
Queens acquainted in learned sin,
Jane of Jewry’s slender shin:
Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,
Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana,
Queens who wasted the East by proxy,
Or drove the ass-cart, a tinker’s doxy,
Yet these are rotten-I ask their pardon-
And we’ve the sun on rock and garden,
These are rotten, so you’re the Queen
Of all the living, or have been.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Story


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Judith conjures chaos

This is the second half of Giordano’s Big Picture (posted Dec 5) –

Luca Giordano, “The Discovery of the Body of Holofernes,” 1703–1704, oil on canvas, 77 x 103 cm, St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri, USA

The first half shows Judith back in Bethulia, showing off Holofernes’ head.  This depicts the other side of town: back at the Assyrian Camp where Holofernes’ headless body is discovered.  In contrast to the jubilation back in town, this is a scene of chaos and fear, with the soldiers falling over themselves and their horses.  And then Giordano adds those angels falling from the sky with a Shit Storm behind them.  That alone is enough to make the Assyrians pack in a hurry and make tracks.

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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Glory


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Judith and the morning after

Meanwhile, back at the Assyrian Camp …

Sandro Botticelli, “The Discovery of the Murder of Holofernes,” 1470–1472, Tempera on wood, 31 x 25 cm, Uffizi, Florence, Italy

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Book of Judith, Chapter 14

11 And as soon as the morning arose, they hanged the head of Holofernes upon the wall, and every man took his weapons, and they went forth by bands unto the straits of the mountain.
12 But when the Assyrians saw them, they sent to their leaders, which came to their captains and tribunes, and to every one of their rulers.
13 So they came to Holofernes’ tent, and said to him that had the charge of all his things, Waken now our lord: for the slaves have been bold to come down against us to battle, that they may be utterly destroyed.
14 Then went in Bagoas, and knocked at the door of the tent; for he thought that he had slept with Judith.
15 But because none answered, he opened it, and went into the bedchamber, and found him cast upon the floor dead, and his head was taken from him.
16 Therefore he cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and sighing, and a mighty cry, and rent his garments.
17 After he went into the tent where Judith lodged: and when he found her not, he leaped out to the people, and cried,
18 These slaves have dealt treacherously; one woman of the Hebrews hath brought shame upon the house of king Nabuchodonosor: for, behold, Holofernes lieth upon the ground without a head.
19 When the captains of the Assyrians’ army heard these words, they rent their coats and their minds were wonderfully troubled, and there was a cry and a very great noise throughout the camp.

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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Gory


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Now for something completely different, (XXII)

A Date With Judy (1951, vol.22)

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The definition of class and grace: Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.   Worth the watch.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in something completely different


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Judith and the circumcision

According to the Biblical account, things get a little intense after Judith returns:   Alchior is so excited about the defeat of Holofernes that he asks to be circumcised to become a Jew.

Ernst Fuchs, “Judith and the innocence,” 1988, Oil-tempera mixed media,

Judith:  Um … I heard you made “The Cut” today so I brought you a present?

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Book of Judith, Chapter 14

6 Then they called Achior out of the house of Ozias; and when he was come, and saw the head of Holofernes in a man’s hand in the assembly of the people, he fell down on his face, and his spirit failed.
7 But when they had recovered him, he fell at Judith’s feet, and reverenced her, and said, Blessed art thou in all the tabernacles of Juda, and in all nations, which hearing thy name shall be astonished.
8 Now therefore tell me all the things that thou hast done in these days.
 Then Judith declared unto him in the midst of the people all that she had done, from the day that she went forth until that hour she spake unto them.
9 And when she had left off speaking, the people shouted with a loud voice, and made a joyful noise in their city.
10 And when Achior had seen all that the God of Israel had done, he believed in God greatly, and circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and was joined unto the house of Israel unto this day.

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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Whorey


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Judith in steampunk

What H.G Well’s Judith might look like –

Alastair Fell, Judith And Holofernes, 2009,

Something like Edward Scissorhands.

This interpretation of Judith is by Aly Fell, and has introduced me to “steampunk.”    Once again, I refer you to my disclaimer and one of the things I forget to mention:  I am not on the cutting edge of culture (cutting edge of crazy, maybe).     So “steampunk” is news to me.    For other novices such as myself, it is defined as a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that is set at a time when steam power was widely used – usually England in the Victorian era.    The terminology apparently originated with science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to describe works by Tim Powers, James Blaylock and himself – all placed in the 19th-century and imitating ideas of H. G. Wells.

In this depiction by Aly Fell, Judith appears as a mechanic who has dismantled the head of a robot.    If indeed robots attempt to take over the world as some people fear, then this techno-decapitation makes perfect sense.

But I am still thinking of Edward Scissorhands. Probably because it is on my top five list of favorite movies. And always touches my heart.

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Cacciatore


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Judith returns to politics

Vitaly Komar & Alex Melamid, “Judith on red square,” 1993, Silkscreen on paper, 30 x 30.5 in

Stalin as the tyrannt Holofernes.

Stalin with a Big Head.

Makes sense.

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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Cacciatore


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Now for something completely different (XXI)

What a tease …

A Date With Judy (1951, vol.21)

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And for a tease of a different sort, a movie trailer for Judy Holliday –

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in something completely different


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Judith with a temper

Leonard Baskin, “Judith with the Head Holofernes,” 1975, Lithograph, 39 x 26 in, sold by R. Michelsons, Northampton, Masssachusettes, USA

This is one of several depictions of Judith by Leonard Baskin (1922-2000).

Baskin was an American sculptor, book-illustrator, wood-engraver, printmaker, graphic artist, writer and teacher.   I would say a Renaissance man but that term can get confusing here.   While a student at Yale, he founded Gehenna Press, a small private press specializing in fine book production.   He taught at both Smith College and Hampshire College while maintaining an active and illustrious career as an artist.   Public commissions include a bas relief for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and a bronze statue for the Holocaust Memorial in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Baskin’s art was inspired by the iconic, monolithic imagery of Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian art mixed with the similar styles of Romanesque and Italian Gothic.   These archaic modes were consistently and inventively used in giving tribute to heroes he saw as his spiritual predecessors (1).   Obviously, Judith was one of those heroes.

(Side note:  he also had a fascination with crows but I need some time to understand that connection.)

In this portrayal and in all others, Judith is shown as a red-headed heroine.  Her gaze is intent and in a straight line with Holofernes’ head.  There is something grave about her posture – indicating her cognizance of the weight, importance and momentousness of her action.

And a little feisty.

(1) Oxford Grove Art: Leonard Baskin
(2) Gale Encyclopedia of Biography: Leonard Baskin

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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Glory


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