You have waited and waited and finally here it is. After all the Baroque Judith‘s, with their Counter-Reformation message. The ultimate Femme Fatale emerges in Gustav Klimt’s first and most infamous Judith.
But you only get to oogle one boob and a navel.
Klimt’s Judith is the iconic man-killer. Sensual, wanton, satiated on her lover’s death. She looks positively intoxicated with her self-satisfaction. One hand affectionately and possessively entwined in his hair. Eyes half closed, mouth half-opened, drapery half-off. You can almost hear Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) having a fake orgasm in the background. She is much more fun than Klimt’s second scary Judith II.
That is not to say I don’t love this Klimt. In fact I am fascinated by (almost) all his work.
But I am concerned about what the Judith story has come to signify in the 21st century. In these depictions, you can trace over time that she has moved from:
- Biblical heroine of faith to …
- political power of the weak to …
- Oriental seductress to …
- wild-eyed angry feminist
This Judith is between the last two portrayals: closer to the sexual predator but one who is drunk with her domination. Basically, she beautiful but kind of scary. Powerful but kind of sinister. Glittering but kind of tarnished.
Who I want to be but kind of not.