Monthly Archives: June 2012

Judith has company

In a quiet little church in Spain …


… on the back left wall of the nave …


… stands Judith and an adoring crowd.

Unknown School of Seville., “Judith,” Oil on canvas, 162 x 105 cm, Nave of the Gospel, Chapel of San Bartolomé, Cantillana, Spain

I’m getting a little bit better at this iconography.   Enough to understand that in the lower left corner, Judith is kneeling at the feet of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child because she is the predecessor to Mary.  Then there are cherubs surrounding her head and holding a wreath of … of … oysters?  Must be a Catalonian thang.

Okay, so I’m not really getting any better at this.

see: Roman Villalon, and Captain Jose Alvaro Duran. Inventory of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. Cantillana. Files of the Parish of Our Lady of the Asunción.1997.

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Glory


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Judith: les Fenêtres

Throughout this blog, I have commented on various stained glass windows that depict Judith.   But I recently came across a treasure trove of windows in French churches and cathedrals  (Well, one is in Belgium but they speak French, don’t they?).   So here they are en masse.

“Judith,” 16th century, stained glass, Church of St Martin, Triel-sur-Seine, France

I always enjoy seeing Judith on a throne.  Seems so natural and appropriate for a girl like me.

“Judith”, stained glass, Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, Dinant, Belgium

I love the stars, the rose and the giant cabbage – but someone needs to hand Judith a napkin to wipe her chin.  She looks slightly cannibalistic with that suspicious stain.

“Judith,” stained glass, Our Lady of the Assumption, Bagnères-de-Luchon, France

This pose suggests “Judith the Hitchhiker” – as in “Hey, I just decapitated a guy so get me the hell outa here.”

“Judith,” stained glass, Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul de Troyes, Troyes, France

This window I like in particular.   The headgear, the hidden head, the sassy hand-on-hip, the smirky smile.  That’s attitude.   Oh wait … that’s the maid.  At least Judith gets a crown.

Jonathan Manasseh, “Judith,” stained glass, Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, Paris, France

And this gets my attention because it shows Judith supported by three men.  Seems about right to me in the hierarchy of things.

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Glory


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Judith’s sense of humor

Frank Schulz is a reincarnation of Lucas Cranach the Elder.   With an added sense of humor.   Enjoy his delicious “Masterpieces-Reloaded” – Schulz’s versions of the old masters.

Starting with Judith for the geriatric group …

Frank Schulz, “Judith mit dem Haupt Holofernes (Gustav Klimt Reloaded) – Version 03,” 2011, Acrylic on wood,

Frank Schulz, “Judith mit dem Haupt Holofernes (Gustav Klimt Reloaded) – Version 02,” 2010, Acrylic on paper, 30 x 15 cm,

Frank Schulz, “Judith mit dem Haupt Holofernes (zerstört) (Gustav Klimt) – Version 01,” art print,

Frank Schulz, “Judith (August Riedel Reloaded) – Version 02,” 2010, Acrylic on wood, 54 x 41 cm,

Frank Schulz, “Judith (August Riedel Reloaded) – Version 01,” art print,

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Whorey


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Now for something completely different (XLV)

A Date with Judy (1955, no. 45)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Judith and her older sister, Susanna

Speaking of Shakespeare,  his youngest daughter with Anne Hathaway was named Judith (baptised 2 February 1585 – buried 9 February 1662).   She was born the twin sister of Hamnet, who died at the age of eleven.   Judith was married to Thomas Quiney, a vintner of Stratford-upon-Avon, but he must have been a bad boy because Shakespeare rewrote his will to attach provisions to Judith’s inheritance to safeguard it from her husband.

Judith is the subject of the novel My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare’s Tale by Grace Tiffany and in William Black’s Judith Shakespeare: Her Love Affairs and Other Adventures, published serially in Harper’s Magazine in 1884.   She also appears in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel, The Sandman, in which she is compared with the character of Miranda in The Tempest (#75).

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf created a character, “Judith Shakespeare”, although she is supposed to be Shakespeare’s sister rather than his daughter and the circumstances of her story are entirely fictional.


Posted by on June 27, 2012 in something completely different


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Judith is not Judith

i am taking artistic license here.   Because this painting is not officially Judith.   But it should be.

Pablo Picasso, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” 1932, Oil on canvas, 162 × 130 cm, Tate Modern, London, UK

“Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” is considered the most expensive painting ever sold at auction at $106.5 million (Including the buyer’s premium).    The previous auction record was set in February 2010 by Alberto Giacometti’s “L’Homme qui marche I,” which sold for $104.3 million.   But accounting for inflation, the most expensive work of art sold at public auction remains Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” – bought in May 1990 for $82.5 million (approx. $138.4 million in adjusted 2010 US dollars).   Jackson Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948” remains the most expensive work of art sold overall – privately sold for $140 million in 2006 (approx. $151 million in 2010 dollars).

Why should this painting be Judith?   Although Picasso claims this is a bust, it appears to be a decapitated head to me.  And the nude is obviously Judith – exhausted from her exertion.  The blue curtains are without a doubt the drapery of Holofernes’ tent.  And the maid is off cleaning the fauchion somewhere in the margins.

Plus Picasso has no other works with Judith as the subject, so he must have meant to paint one.  Now if i can just figure out what happened to the Judith that Van Gogh intended to paint.

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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Glory


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Judith is still Blue

Matt Hughes, “Holofernes,” 2011, Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in,

While the majority of Matt’s influences include Art Nouveau artists Alphonse Mucha and Gustav Klimt, the influences of artists such as Herbert Draper, Gustave Dore, John Singer Sargent as well as Maxfield Parrish, one of the renowned illustrators from the “golden age of Illustration”, are equally apparent.  Introspectively drawing his own inspiration from self reflection, personal experience, and an inept talent for what he refers to as “visual method acting”, Matt has instinctively merged conceptual twists on conventional artistic themes with spiritual and philosophical concepts to interpret the most fundamental of human emotion and action into his visions, resulting in a strange and remarkable melange, now known as Gothic Art Nouveau.

“When I become deeply affected by the tragedies of others I engross myself in their world and their experiences.  This “visual method acting” as I have come to refer to it allows me to convey a small portion of their tragedy, sorrow, or experience to my audience in a way that is both confrontational and evocative.  My voice is unique and through my work I intended to shout my thoughts and whisper my demons away.” (1)

And in that spirit, here is Judith.  Standing straight and tall, the victor.  Holofernes’ head tucked beneath her robe.  But she is not celebrating – not pointing to God or waving her trophy before the crowd.  Instead, she seems ambivalent, caught between emotions.  Resolute and determined to complete her chosen course of action, anxious to make her escape and her revelation to the crowd, concerned that she made the right choices for herself as well as her city – and perhaps somewhat dismayed that she had to be manipulative and murderous to achieve her objective.

Are any difficult choices ever without regret?

(1)  Gothic Art Nouveau and Matt Hughes: The Art and The Artist

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Distracted


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Judith is Blue

Once again, Maratta robes Judith in purist blue.

Carlo Maratta, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” Oil on canvas, 121 x 88 cm, Schaumburg Lippe, Schloss Buckeburg, Germany

Symbolic language of Blue

  • In the English language, blue often represents the human emotion of sadness.  For example, “He was feeling blue”.
  • It may also be in relation to rain, which is usually regarded as a trigger of depressive emotions.
  • Conversely blue can represent happiness and optimism as days with clearer, blue skies tend to be considered times where these emotions are more easily expressed.
  • In German, on the other hand, to be “blue” (blau sein) is to be drunk. This derives from the ancient use of urine (which is produced copiously by the human body after drinking alcohol) in dyeing cloth blue with woad or indigo.
  • Blue is traditionally the color of the Virgin Mary in Western Art.

Thus I surmise, Maratta is unlikely to be communicating that Judith is sad or depressed or happy or drunk – but most likely symbolizing her relation to the Mother Mary.   “Mulier Sancta” (Holy Woman) and Virgin Mary prototype.   The highest woman in the Christian faith, source of unconditional love and consolation, the brave warriorin epics, exemplar of pious chastity for cloistered nuns, Earth Mother of various Neo-pagan traditions, a Bodhisattva of compassion (Kuan-Yin).   Wrapping Judith in blue is the emblem of feminine power.

I can live with that.

Addendum:  How dare I forget that “blue” is also the color of pornographic films in the US and India.  But I am fairly certain this has nothing to do with Maratta.  Judith, on the other hand …

Second addendum:  If you want to know the real story of blue, read Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu.  Even if you don’t want to know, read it anyway for the fun.

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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Gory


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