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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Judith gets down

This is a lovely depiction of Judith, so why did I not see it before?

Probably because it is so dark in here.

Francesco Rustici (il Rustication), “Judith and Holofernes,” 121 x 92 cm, auctioned by Finarte, May 19, 1999, Milan, Italy

Francesco Rustici (il Rustichino) – not to be confused with Giovanni Francesco Rusticithe High Renaissance Sculptor – was a lesser known Baroque artist.   Too bad because this is a unique and lovely portrayal of Judith in the act of decapitating Holofernes.   As opposed to attacking Holofernes from the front, she has him rolled on his face so he can’t see what is coming – giving a nice view of his muscular back and shoulders.  This position also means she does not have to look at his pained expression – which is probably why she appears so serene.  And her profile suggests the determination to get down to business without breaking a sweat.

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Story

 

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Judith takes the Crown

Now for the Winner of the Best Avenging Female of the 17th CenturyJudith of Bethulia!

Cristóbal de Villalpando, “Judith,” Oil on canvas, 83.8 x 56 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s, Nov19, 2003 (Lot 67)

Borrowing from Giorgione for her stance, Cristóbal de Villalpando depicted Judith in the decorative and luminous style of Baroque colonial Mexico – a two-dimensional equivalent to the Ultrabaroque architecture of buildings of the time.  What we would consider “over the top” Baroque – if that is even possible considering Baroque by definition is dramatic exaggeration, exuberance, and grandeur.  BIG fluffy clouds.  BRILLIANT shafts of light.  SOARING cliffs.  THREE FOOT feather and FOUR FOOT sword.  FIVE layers of clothing and to top it off, a CROWN.

So what is up with the feather?  Did she tickle Holofernes into submission?  Or is that a Baroque symbol of “nanny nanny boo boo”?

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Glory

 

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Judith takes it lying down

Santiago Rodrigues Bonome, “Judith,” 1930, Bronze, patinated, 23 inches, auctioned by Heritage, Nov 1, 2007 (Lot 33755), Dallas, Texas, US

Men are so fickle.  First they want the nice Green Patina on a heroic “Judith” – sold for $1500.  And then they want a Brown Patina on the seductress “Salome” – going for $3000 to $4000.  Can’t they tell it’s the same woman?!

Santiago Rodrigues Bonome, “Salome,” 1930, Bronze, brown patinated, 23 inches, auctioned by Christie’s Mar 10, 2009 (Lot 41), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith is two-timed

Gregory Richard Curnoe, “Judith,” 1964, oil on board, 124.5 x 91.4 cm, auctioned by Bonhams, Nov 29, 2011 (Lot 1175 ), New York, NY, US

True to Curnoe’s belief in the inseparable nature of art and life, many of his semi-figural compositions were depictions of family and close friends. Here, his model, most likely a character from the artist’s life narrative, reclines in abstract space, her presence defined by the porcelain white contrast of her figure with a bold orange surround. Judith attests to Curnoe’s virtuoso command of colour and form. (1)

That seems all well and good until HA!!   One year earlier, Curnoe painted a similar semi-figural work entitled Diane (1963) – which is now in the National Gallery of Canada (2).   But that hussy can’t even keep her name straight:  sometimes she goes by “Diane,”  sometimes “Diane Stretching,” and for publicity “Diane’s Legs.”

And where did Judith end up?  Passed around from The Isaacs Gallery to Waddington’s to Bonham’s due to the bankruptcy of Ritchies Inc.

Yes, that’s right.  Diane ended up in a museum and Judith was faced with bankruptcy. Ah, the fate of a betrayed woman.

(1)  Joyner Canadian Fine Art, Lot 140, GREGORY RICHARD CURNOE, “Judith,” May 27, 2011, Toronto, ON, Canada
(2) National Gallery of Canada, “Diane’s Legs,” 1963 (no. 40593)

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith steals Björk’s dress

This HAS to be one of my favorite depictions of Judith.  The style, the color, the symbolism is all too delicious for words.  I only wish the image was larger!  So where to begin …

Gustave Adolphe Mossa, “Judith,” 1904, pen and ink and watercolour on paper, 36 x 19 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s, Jun 13, 2006 (Lot 319), London, UK

Gustav Mossa, (1883-1971) was inspired by the work of Baudelaire among other authors, and his style was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau and the Symbolist movement.  There is also a hint of his father’s posters for the Carnival of Nice, to which Mossa returned after 1911 – abandoning Symbolism.

During his Symbolistic period, there was obviously some weird shit going on, as suggested by this self-portrait.   His subjects were often women of classical myth such as harpies and sirens, depicted as perverse by nature. His style reflected the illustrious view of the Victorian Era, while simultaneously evoking an air of subversion.

With Judith, Mossa uses a hypnotic stare – devoid of emotion after murdering and butchering Holofernes.  She is attired in pale-pink finery decorated with swans and appears to be above reproach – except for the open bodice that exposes her breasts and the snake wrapped around her throat.  And that decapitated head dripping blood down the back of her skirt.

At least the maid has the sense to attempt to catch the head and look around to see if they are being followed. It might be Björk looking for her dress.

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to see more about Mossa’s macabre art:

Phespirit, Gustav-Adolf Mossa: Pierrot S’En Va – 1888.

Zoetica Ebb, Corpses kiss damsels: the curious art of Gustav Mossa. COILHOUSE, December 28th, 2007.

Gustav-Adolph MOSSA

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith in triplicate

William Etty, “Judith and Holofernes, triptych,” 1827-1831, oil on canvas, 21¼ x 29 in. (total size including frame), auctioned by Christie’s Sep 3, 2008 (Lot 181), London, England, UK

Damn, damn, damn.

I have been chasing William Etty all over the internet the last few days, only to conclude:

  • Etty loved to paint nudes – even though the subject scandalized the Victorians
  • Etty executed three pictures,”Deliverance of Bethulia by Judith,” from 1827 to 1831 during visits to Scotland – which he himself considered among his best works
  • Wikipedia says they are “all in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh” – but they are not
  • Therefore … this triptych must be the three Judith‘s

Anyone care to debate?

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Glory

 

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Judith: Going, Going, Gone

It seems I have exhausted the museums and have mined the contemporary works for Judith, and what remains are the auctions.   Yes, there have been works sold at auction included in the posts prior to today but … this is all I have left.    Not that all the pieces from auctions are poor quality or have suspicious origins, it’s just that … they seem like orphans.  Very expensive orphans.

Having made that rambling introduction to this section, I will now rip into this unique item:

Claudio Ridolfi, “Judith and Holofernes,” oil on slate, 37 x 36 cm, auctioned by Dorotheum Dec 14, 2010 (Lot 56)

Not exactly the loveliest Judith i have seen.  On the downside of this painting –

  • It is an octagon.  how will anyone find a frame for that at Walmart?
  • It is painted on slate.  and everyone knows slates are only good for chalk, duh.
  • Judith is wearing a butt-ugly dress.
  • Judith looks like she is slicing ham instead of decapitating a live person.

But on the upside –

  • Her hand over Holofernes’ eyes is cracking me up.  don’t peek: it will only take a minute to carve that ham you want for your sandwich!
 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Distracted

 

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