More Big Pictures with Big Heads.
This painting illustrates the moment when Judith displays the trophy of her victory to the citizens she has rescued. In a Christian context, the story of the Jewish heroine represents the triumph of virtue over evil. During the Counter-Reformation, the subject also became a powerful symbol of the Catholic Church’s triumph over heresy, or dissent from its teachings. Here, Solimena shows Judith as confident that she has served the will of God. The dramatic lighting, gestures and facial expressions of the figures are intended to appeal to the emotions and inspire the faith that motivated Judith.(1)
Francesco Solimena was a prolific artist and a highly conventional painter that followed the Baroque masters Luca Giordano and Mattia Preti (and Giovanni Lanfranco but he did not paint Judith so we can ignore him). The influence of Giordano is easy to see – and many of my same thoughts apply to these works as I shared about Giordano’s.
And I particularly miss the little dog Spot in the final version. I would much rather have him than the addition of chubby cherubs.
(1) Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester: Solimena, The Triumph of Judith, 1704-1708