Judith in the Holy Field

18 Dec

At least, it is supposed to be Judith.

Paolo Guidotti Borghese, “Judith,” late 16th century, fresco, Camposanto, Pisa, Italy

I feel as dejected as the statue slumped over the sarcophagus on the right,  head in hand.  Why is this so DIFFICULT?!

Let me start at the beginning.    The Camposanto (“Holy Field”) or Monumental Cemetery in Pisa was constructed in 1278 around sacred dirt brought back from Golgotha during the Crusades.   Later decorated with extensive frescoes, it was the burial place of the Pisan upper class for centuries.   A legend claims that bodies buried in that ground will rot in just 24 hours.   Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Actually, this fresco of Judith is not one of the Big Ass Frescos in Camposanto.   No, those frescos are a century older – at least – and in a large room off the north gallery.   The one everybody hyperventilates about is The Triumph of Death by Buonomico Buffalmacco, dating from the 14th century.   The Judith fresco is in a different gallery next to a large rusty chain from the Pisa port, taken by the Genoese and later returned to Pisa in 1860.   Sure, just what I would steal to piss off my enemy:  rusty chains from the harbor.

Once again, trying to view this image on a computer screen is frustrating.   Because somewhere in this crowd, Judith is supposed to be loitering.   She appears to be front and center – but why?  I don’t see a severed head  – unless it is that brown lump that looks like a sphinx or a goat –  so what is she doing?   Is this the entrance into the Assyrian camp at the beginning or the return to Bethulia at the end?

 Argh.  I would be better off trying to figure out the Leaning Tower.
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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Cacciatore


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