Judith and the Clown Hat

19 Feb

Gurrrrl,  what is on your head?   It looks like a load of last week’s laundry.   And you look like a fool.

Francisco del Cairo, “Judith with the Head Holofernes,” 1630-35, oil on canvas, 119 x 94 cm, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, USA

At least by modern standards.

While this is a lovely painting, the size of Judith’s headgear is alarming.   And even without reference to the possession of this painting by Ringling Museum of Art, the ginormous size does lead you to think of a clown.    I am trying to determine if this is an actual representation of either a turban worn by women in the late Renaissance – or if del Cairo took artistic license and blew it up a notch.

But once I get over the bizarre headpiece, there is much to recommend the painting.  The lighting of the skin is luminous.   And the direct expression of her face is slightly unnerving.    There is no happiness or pride or vindication or fear as which other Judith‘s — in fact her expression is rather blank and that seems out-of-place.    In contrast to the aforementioned emotions, this lack of expression implies uncertainty or hesitation — as if she is unsure how to proceed now that she has her grisly prize.

Or maybe her hat simply weighs too much and is staunching the flow of blood to her brain.


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Cacciatore


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2 responses to “Judith and the Clown Hat

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