Judith in two lights

03 Jun

Same basic Judith.  Same composition.  Two different mediums.

Agostino Cornacchini, “Judith and Holofernes,” 1722, Bronze, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham UK

First, we have bronze.   Which casts Judith in a dark light (yuck, yuck).   Appearing rather sinister.  She gazes down at the severed head in near amazement as her maid crouches to the right and the headless body is splayed to the left.

After Agostino Cornacchini, “Judith and Holofernes,” 1746-50, Doccia porcelain with original wood base, 17 in.without base, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, US

Second, we have porcelain.  Which depicts Judith in a delicate aura.  However, the purity of the porcelain does nothing to diminish Judith’s satisfaction with the decapitation.  In fact, her expression conveys even MORE pride in her action.

But the aspect of this piece that intrigues me is the bed.  Actually, what appears to be a carved face on the head of the bed.  It peers so solemnly from beneath the bedcovers – almost as if it is hiding for the murderous deed that has transpired above it.  And its presence is confusing, because at first it seems to be a fourth person in the room.  Among the many decorative motifs that Cornacchini could have used upon the headboard, why did he choose this face and this expression?

Maybe it IS an alternate point of view – indicating that Judith’s story is not all that it seems.

Note: for a more scholarly approach to this piece, see

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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Glory


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