Monthly Archives: November 2012

Judith and the oyster shell

Unknown, Cameo of Judith and Holofernes, 1500s, Oyster shell, slate backing, closed silver-gilt mount with claw and beaded settings, silver scrollwork frame with alternate heavily foiled almandine garnets and amethysts in closed settings, suspension loop and ring; 5.9 x 5.0 cm. cameo 3.5 x 2.4 Royal Collection, UK

Oooh, something shiney!

Cameo is a method of carving an object to produce a raised (positive) relief image – achieved by carving a piece of material where two contrasting colors meet, removing all the first color except for the image to leave a contrasting background.

The first cameos were carved from hardstone but shell came into use for cameo carving during the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.   Renaissance cameos are typically white on a grayish background and were carved from the shell of a mussel or cowry (tropical mollusk).

This cameo features a full-length figure of Judith, in profile to the right, holding up the severed head of Holofernes.  She has a downward-pointing sword in her right hand and the foreshortened body of Holofernes lies behind her.   The shell has been backed with slate to add background color.
but who can resist garnets and amethysts?

1872 mauve and fuchsia afternoon gown, “Re-Designing History. FIDM Study Collection 1850-2000,”    Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, California, USA

I imagine this cameo at the throat of a Victorian gown – deep crimson with a bodice that ends in a high lace neck. Like this?

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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Cacciatore


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Judith from Southern Bethulia

Unknown, "L'entrevue de Judith et Holopherne," Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, France

Judith:  Pardon me for interrupting, but is this the Seleucid camp?

Holofernes:  No, they are the next camp over.  This is the Assyrian camp.

Judith:   The Assyrian camp?  Fiddle-dee-dee.   How confusing for a little peabrain like me.  I thought the Seleucid men were tall, dark and handsome but ya’ll are even taller and darker and handsomer.

Holofernes:  Perhaps you would prefer to visit this camp instead.

Judith:   Well, I do have a bag of Hershey bars and marshmallows I had promised to the Seleucids.

Holofernes:   Nonsense.  We have plenty of graham crackers and they don’t deserve the pleasure of your company.

Judith:   Hmmm.  I suppose.  A campfire with y’all could be more fun.  And then I can visit the Seleucids tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.   Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Cacciatore


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Now for something completely different (LXV)

“A Date With Judy,” 1958, vol 65

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if you watched television in the 1970’s, you remember the phrase: “Goodnight, John-Boy”.  And it was often uttered by John-Boy’s sister, Mary Ellen – the second oldest child in The Walton’s, played by Judy Norton.   It was the most wholesome show on the air at the time.

However, Judy grew tired of being wholesome and wanted to launch her adult career.   And what do all ingenues do when they want to cast their wholesomeness aside?   How do they make the first big step into being taken seriously as an adult?

Playboy!  What could be more serious than that?

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in something completely different


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Judith, Her Serene Highness

Vincent Sellaer, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,”    c.1550-1575, Oil on panel, 112 x 89 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s 1991(Lot 222)

We are so please with our efforts this day that I now decree it shall be known henceforth as “The Day Judith Took The Asshole Down.”

A day filled with merriment and nudity and general debauchery to commemorate our glorious decapitation of Holofernes – a day when all citizens can lose their heads.   Except only the women are allowed to carry swords, which should keep the debauchery to a minimum.

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Whorey


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Judith looks for approval

Antonio De Chiara, “Judith,” 2003, Oil on canvas, 80 x 90 cm, Collezione Galleria Ponte Rosso, Milan, Italy

This may or may not be the Judith I have been pursuing.    Minus the sword and the maid.

But even without the sword and the maid, this a Judith with power.    Even if she is not planning to decapitate this General, she does have him in her confident control.

My guess is that Judith has selected new drapes for the tent and has made the fourth request for Holofernes’ approval.   After binding his wrists behind his back (by suggesting a little sumpin’-sumpin’), she is now emphatically directing his attention to the drapes, holding him by the throat and asking:  What do you think about the drapes now, sucka?

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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Whorey


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Judith the model

Alfred George Stevens, Model of “Judith” for the Dome of St Paul’s, c.1862, Bronze,                  42.5 x 22.5 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, UK

In a previous post (May 21, 2012), I discussed Alfred George Stevens and the Wellington Monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.   Begun in 1857, the model took 10 years to complete and the monument itself was unfinished at Stevens’ death in 1875.   However somewhere in all that work he was doing, Stevens found time to design a model of Judith for the dome of St. Paul’s.  I cannot find any confirmation that Judith ever made it to the dome of St. Paul’s.  Pity.   She would have had a great view of the Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill; the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer; the thanksgiving services for both the Golden Jubilee and 80th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II …

And the bird woman from Mary Poppins.

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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Glory


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Judith unbalanced

Anastasia Nelyubina, “Judith”

This Judith appears to be a stranger to symmetry.   One black boot on a bare leg,  one barefoot red stocking.   One perky boob in, one droopy boob out.

At least she seems to have made a clean cut of Holofernes’  head.

Too bad she did not do the same for her hair.

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Posted by on November 24, 2012 in Gory


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Judith distributes Bethulian Booze

Bartholomaüs Stobel, “Judith and Holofernes,” c. 1600-1625, Oil on canvas, 109 x 171 cm, Musée de Soissons, France

What a crowd!   And what a bunch of slackers.   Here they are sleeping on the ground – on top of each other – next to the flaps of Holofernes’ tent while he is in a violent struggle to save his neck.    Yes, it does appear that Judith has her hand over his mouth to stifle his screaming but don’t you think he could make a little bit of a fuss?

Unless that Bethulian moonshine is incredibly potent and Judith distributed it liberally among the troops.

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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Gory


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Judith and the ulterior motive

Damn those private collections.  Imagine the selfishness of keeping this art all to yourself.  Humpf.

Giovanni Battista Spinelli, “Giuditta recide la testa ad Oloferne,” private collection (1)

Now that I have finished pouting about not being one of THOSE people,  I can appreciate the opportunity to peruse these paintings on the internet.   And appreciate that this is a lovely depiction of Judith.   Hand on the hilt, ready to swing.   Seems very calm for an executioner.   Except … where is Holofernes?   While her back is turned, did he fall out of bed?

Giovanni Battista Spinelli, “Giuditta con la testa di Oloferne,” c.1630-1660, Oil on canvas, 84.5 x 67.5 cm, private collection

And although this is black-and-white, it gets across the point (points?).   Judith has clearly exerted herself in acquiring Holofernes’ head – to the point her bodice has slipped.   Quite a bit.   And being rather proud of her ample bosom, she is peering out of the tent to see if there is anyone else she can dazzle with her décolletage.

Reminds me of a scene with Madonna from A League of Their Own.

(1)  Nicola Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli: Da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione. (2010).   Arte’m Publisher

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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Whorey


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Now for something completely different (LXIV)

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First and foremost:  I will not pretend to know anything about opera.

However, I did unearth the significance of Judith to one of the great Italian opera composers: Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), “the Swan of Catania” for his long-flowing melodic lines.    He did not write an opera for Judith, but he did have two important Giuditta‘s in his life.   Giuditta Pasta and Giuditta Turina.  

Giuditta Angiola Maria Costanza Pasta (née Negri) (1797-1865) was a soprano considered among the greatest of opera singers of her time.   She created the role of Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula and Norma (both in Milan in 1831).    The collaboration between Pasta and Bellini was crucial for both:  in the young musician, the singer found the only person able to promote her talents while Bellini found the ideal vocal resources to interpret his creative and experimental artistry.   Beatrice di Tenda was written for Pasta in 1833.

Giuditta Cantu Turina was introduced to Bellini in 1828, and although she was married, they began a passionate affair.    Her marriage was not based on love and because the lovers were discreet, her husband and his family seem to have permitted the relationship.   But sometime in 1833, Bellini’s relationship with Giuditta Turina deteriorated due to two factors.  The failure of Beatrice di Tenda ended Bellini’s collaboration with Romani, the librettist, and a public quarrel resulted in Romani publishing an accusation that Bellini was too distracted “by a certain woman to pay attention to his music” –  causing a horrible scandal.   Concurrently, Turina’s husband found letters from Bellini, ceased to tolerate her indiscretions and forced a legal separation.   Turina seemed ready to get a divorce and expressed her desire to be with Bellini, but his feelings had changed.   The composer’s reaction was to break things off for good and flee the country without marrying her.

Strangely, Bellini later entertained thoughts of marrying an English friend of Pasta, and upon her refusal, of marrying Pasta’s young daughter Clelia – which her parents rejected.

There was a third Giuditta in Bellini’s life:  Giuditta Grisi – an operatic mezzo-soprano for whom he wrote the role of Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 1830.

Romeo?  Really?  Maybe that’s why she didn’t stick around as long.

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in something completely different


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