Judith on top

08 Dec

Luca Giordano, “Triumph of Judith,” 1703-1704, fresco, Certosa di San Martino, Naples, Italy

Where do I begin?  This ceiling is completely overwhelming and my neck hurts even though I am looking at it on a computer screen.

This is again one of the Masters of the Big Pictures, Luca Giordano.  He was nicknamed Luca Fa Presto (Luke work quickly) because of his extraordinary speed of product and huge output.   This fresco is particularly amazing because it is said he took less than 48 hours to complete this last work, The Triumph of St. Judith, on the ceiling of the Cappella del Tesoro at the age of 72 (1).

Shut the front door.  Age 72?  Less than 48 hours?  On a freaking ceiling?  Was he like Jack LaLanne?

As this image is oriented here, on the lower edge is Holofernes’ headless body with Judith standing on the ledge above him – again waving his head like a beacon.   Holofernes’ empty tent is in the background of the upper portion.   All around the edge is the chaos of soldiers fleeing the scene on horseback – and being chased by angels with swords.   Now that is a scary thought:  winged creatures falling from the sky with swords.  Totally.  Bad.  Ass.

And then there are the corners, which I wish someone would explain to me because I am sure there is a story.  Each corner depicts a beautiful young woman surrounded by cherubs.   Clockwise starting with Holofernes’ dead body:

  • Woman with a baby and 3 or 4 cherubs
  • Woman with a tankard and 2 cherubs
  • Woman with bundle of kindling and 3 cherubs
  • Woman with palm leaves, book (?) and 4 cherubs

And they all look so … serene.  Even with all the chaos and confusion around them, they sit in the corners like they are in a spa.  Are they mythological creatures?  Even though that seems incongruous with the Bad Ass Angels. 

Oiy.  Now i’m dizzy.

(1)  In Italy Online, Campania: Luca Giordano

1 Comment

Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Glory


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