Judith has a surprise

24 Dec

And what a pleasant surprise!  Another Judith in my own backyard.

Moses Ezekiel, “Judith,” c.1880, marble bust, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

A rather unusual portrait of Judith.   Not only is she missing Holofernes head and his fauchion and her maid, but her arms seem to be gone as well.

Strange, because Ezekiel studied human anatomy at the University of Virginia for a short time before moving to Cincinnati in 1868 to be with family and attend J. Insco Williams’ Art School.  You think he would have remembered the arms.   Failing to gain an apprenticeship, he traveled abroad to study at the Berlin Royal Academy where he developed a style that was romantic, elaborate and ornate – and highly popular in the Victorian era.   After the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871) and a brief imprisonment, Ezekiel went to Italy and began producing the most memorable work of his prolific career – which included Judith.

Neither did Ezekiel do Judith any favors when it came to her profile, in giving her her an unusually large nose – not at all classic.  It may be that he was trying to portray her semitic heritage, it may be that he was reflecting a family member (since he was descended from Spanish-Jews), or it may be he just liked her nose that way.   Unfortunately, these days she probably would have begged for rhinoplasty for her 16th birthday and just become another pretty face instead of an avenging heroine.

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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Whorey


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