Judith and the Big Picture

05 Dec

This section of the artwork of Judith now enters the Big Pictures. The Panoramas. The Crowd and Cloud scenes.

And today is dedicated to two Big Pictures by Luca Giordano.

Luca Giordano, “Judith Displaying the Head of Holofernes,” 1702-1703, Oil on canvas, 103.5 x 71.1 cm, Barnard Castle Bowes, England, UK

This first is “… a sketch for the ceiling painting in the Certosa di San Martino, Naples.” (1)   Which is too bad because I actually like it better.   Probably because it is not as insanely, ornately over-the-top Rococo as the alternate version.  Lacking both angels and injured horses.  And the colors are brighter.  Yes, I have a definite preference.

Luca Giordano, “Judith Displaying the Head of Holofernes,” 1703-1704, Oil on canvas, 102.9 x 77.5 cm, St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri, USA

As far as the story, the second depiction of Judith is slightly problematic because:

  • Holofernes’ headless body is laying on a rock in front of Judith – not back in his tent where it is supposed to be. (and I liked it better with his legs comically sticking out from the rocks as opposed to his bloody neck in my face)
  • Judith is on a ledge waving the head around like Perseus waving Medusa – rather than sticking his head on the wall of the city.
  • Angels are descending to help in the rout – but there are no angels mentioned in the Apochrypha.
None of these things detract from the concept of Judith as conqueror and savior, but they do get under my skin.   Maybe I am just cranky because I liked it better when the story was simply about Judith and the maid, and now all these party crashers are trying to horn in on her fame.  Maybe the animal violence is unsettling.   Maybe I am afraid an angel will crash land in my lap and poke me in the eye with a pointy wing.
Maybe I just liked it simple.  Humpf.


(1) The Bowes Museum: The Triumph of Judith

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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Glory


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