Judith without words

18 Mar

Today I move from English-speaking Ireland to Spanish-speaking Argentina, where I am lost.  Let’s hope a picture IS worth a thousand words.

Judith (2006) Marta Paz

Marta Paz, “Judith,” oil on canvas,

Because i LOVE this painting.  But I cannot translate the descriptions.

What is there to love?  Without words, Judith and the Maid are in a pinch and dependent on each other.  Their trust and concern are evident in the placement of their hands on each other in a comforting and protective embrace.

Behind them are two scenes: a woman before a cross with a decapitated head and a women covering her face with a child at her feet.  Without words, the woman before the cross is doing God’s work by defending her people against an aggressor.  Without words, the woman with the child is anguished because she has no defense against an assault – physical or psychological.

Without words, I interpret this painting to be about women uniting to protect each other.  On the one hand, women are responsible for giving and nurturing fragile lives – yet we have few defenses.  On the other hand, there is belief in God and the strength of the women who have preceded – like Judith and her maid.  Together, there is comfort and power and hope.  And I want to believe that – I do believe that.

What do you see without words?

POST SCRIPT March 24, 2013:

A reader has draw my attention to an additional work of Paz that also depicts Judith – which led me to a third piece that addresses the same theme.  My gratitude to oatmeal girl. And to Paz for adding a little humor to “Dropping the Head of Holofernes.”  The second “The Dancer and the  Dwarf” is probably referring to Salome (that slut) but I have included her just in case Judith engaged in some dancing as well …


Marta Paz, “Dejando caer la Cabeza de Holofernes,” mixed media, 2003,


Marta Paz, “La bailarina y el enano,” 2004,



Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Story


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Judith without words

  1. oatmealgirl09

    March 18, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Given that the artist is Argentinian, my first question would be: when was it painted? Because my reaction on seeing women giving each other comfort and killing a man to save their people was to think of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. An organization of mothers of the desaparecidos. The “disappeared” – a chilling word – from Argentina’s Dirty War, which more people are now aware of since the election of the new pope. (I didn’t peek at the website to see what it actually says.)

    As a Jewish Judith, I can’t help but wince a little at the crucifix. But symbols are universal, and can’t be kept jealously by any one religion. Still, it feels a little weird.


  2. oatmealgirl09

    March 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Starting to research, when really I should be leaving for work. The artist, Marta Paz, has done at least one more painting on the theme, called Dropping the Head of Holofernes (Dejando Caer la Cabeza de Holofernes):


    • judith2you

      March 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm


      Thank you for leading me to this work! I will add a footnote on the post. Paz’s collection of work definitely needs to be examined, focusing primarily on women with overtones of feminine power and relationships on a background of religious icons. And is it a coincidence her surname translates to “peace”?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: