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Judith has an audience

05 Apr

This painting of Judith profoundly irritates me, for some reason.   Let me count the ways …

Adam Elshiemer (after), oil on panel, auctioned by Sotheby’s 7/8/2003 (Lot 438)

  1. The cherubs:   Cherubs are supposed to be cute, chubby harbringers of love.  Rosy little buckets of romance.   So what are these three doing cavoting around in the drapery of a murder scene like Larry, Moe and Curly?   Their air-bourn rolly-polly antics seem antithetical to the gravity of the situation – suggesting an amorous scenario rather than sinister.
  2. The feathered hat:   Judith has sported a variety of head gear over the years.   Amusse, caul, hennen, ramshorn, turban, tiara.   But this elaborate muffin hat is “What Not to Wear” for a decapitation.  The feathers are far too floppy and will either (a) fall in her face at the worst moment during the beheading, even worse (b) fall off of her head completely and land in the midst of the gore – absolutely ruining the white feathers.   And how incriminating is that!  Plus it looks like she has emerge form some errand in town rather than from Holofernes’ bed – a total departure from the story.
  3. The sly look:   Judith has veered from righteous widow to sultry slut across her portrayals, and here she is as … Scarlett O’Hara?   She is fully dressed in Miss Ellen’s portiers, caught in the act of flirting with Suellen’s beau, and she turns to give the viewer that insolent look.

Great balls of fire.  Don’t bother me anymore.  And don’t call me sugar!

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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Cacciatore

 

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