Judith takes a breath

07 Jun

Cecco Bravo (Francesco Montelatici) “Judith and the servant with the head of Holofernes,” c.1646, Oil on canvas, 86 x 63 cm, Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence, Italy

One of my favorite depictions of Judith and her maid.

Especially considering that in the midst of crisply drawn Baroque figures, these women are soft and luminous. Combining all the important elements of the story at this moment (tension, confusion, hesitation, stealth, flight) but omitting the noisy aspects (blood, gore, struggle, violence, nudity, sex).  Additionally, the position of the two women is unusual yet natural  –  the focus on Judith although the maid is in the forefront, the heads turned to look back while their bodies are moving forward.  Although the deed is behind them and their next goal is escape, they are still concerned about the scene they are leaving and the risk of being pursued.  And the manner in which Cecco Bravo has captured the moment almost makes you hold your breath.

Until you notice the sword thrown cavalierly over Judith’s shoulder  –  and then have reassurance that she is in control.

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Story


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One response to “Judith takes a breath

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