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Judith relies on friends

19 Aug

attributed to Adam Elsheimer, “Judith and Holofernes,” c.1650 – c.1700, Oil on canvas, 33 x 22 cm,                                Portsmouth City Museum and Records Office, Portsmouth, England, UK

It happens.  There is a banquet – wallet is lost, name tag falls off, passport is left behind.   And suddenly you can’t remember who you are.

Judith appears to be too busy to ask.   And of course, Holofernes is indisposed.

I would not have been able to identify this painting without the assistance of Barbara, who generously shared her research on the item.  And it would have been a shame, since this is a lovely depiction of the Judith story.  And I am really distressed by dead ends.

I could make sport of Judith’s turban in this painting, but I won’t.   Because there are three aspects of this composition that I consider remarkable.   first, the brilliance of Judith’s flowing drape: not the traditional blue but a delightful aqua with delicate gold embroidery, that billows from her body.   Second – in sharp contrast – the contorted body of Holofernes which seems to still be animated.   Obviously, he did not go quietly.   And third, Judith’s expression and the way she holds the head suggests a stage setting – as if she has performed for an audience and is concluding her climatic scene.

Which is what we expect as a viewer, when you think about it.

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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Story

 

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