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Judith with a temper

15 Dec

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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