Judith revels in Red

06 Aug

I first discussed Lavinia Fontana on September 9, 2011 in “Judith multi-tasks.”  It is there we saw her portrait of the Wolf-Faced Girl and her most famous depictions of Judith.   But Fontana left over 100 documented works – 32 signed and dated works that are known today and 25 more that can be attributed to her – making her oeuvre the largest for any female artist prior to 1700.  The paintings I discuss today are two more that depict Judith – with one still in reserve that brings the total to four for Fontana.

The first Judith by Fontana is actually a self-portrait.   She must have been feeling witty that day and decided to play a little game   Or maybe she found out she was pregnant with child #11 and decided to send a subtle message to her husband, Paolo Zappi.

Lavinia Fontana, “Judith with the head of Holofernes,” 1550-1600, Oil on canvas, Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie, Krakow, Poland

The second Judith may also be a self-portrait, but full length in this case.  And lavishly arrayed.   Her gown of red is a perfect foil for the inevitable blood stain.   And the gold netting gives just the right gleam for an evening frock.    The jewels may be a little heavy, but if they dazzled Holofernes while Judith was drawing his fauchion, they served an important purpose.   I would definitely say “yes” to this dress for a night of swashbuckling.

Lavinia Fontana, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1600, Oil on canvas, Museo Davia Bargellinia,   Bologna, Italy

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Glory


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