Judith wears Old Glory

07 Feb

Betsy Ross?   No, just Judith.

Alessandro Varotari, “Judith with the head of Holofernes,” c.1614-25, oil on canvas, 112 x 85 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria


This original composition is the work of Alessandro Varotari, aka il Padovanino.   Not a brilliant artist but good enough.   Especially when it came to producing copies of paintings from Renaissance artists of the prior generation.    However, this Judith is original.   No one else would dress her in red and white stripes.


Paul Kalberer, “Judith,” 1922, watercolor on paper


The copy is by Paul Kalberer, executed when he was a young artist.   Kalberer was an important proponent of New Objectivity that sprang as a reaction to Expressionism.   Compared to the subjectivity of Expressionism, New Objectivity advocated strict compositions emphasizing sharp and exaggerated drawing, perspective, forms from simple geometry, subdued coloring and rich details that recalled Old Masters.   This Judith incorporates many elements of this style in its infancy during the early 1920’s.  Including repetition of the red and white stripes.

If not for the severed head, she might be able to pass for an American Patriot.   On second thought, some American Patriots would not have a problem tucking the head of an Assyrian General under their arms even today.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Cacciatore


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