I’m back! Ready to visit old friends and to make new friends – all of whom are captivated by Judith’s decapitation of Holofernes. So what a coincidence that I should choose today, June 7, for the revisitation because it coincides with the one year anniversary of a post about Cecco Bravo (aka Francesco Montelatici) titled “Judith takes a breath.” In that work of art, Cecco Bravo has depicted Judith and her maid with the deed behind them and their goal of escape.
But I have since found another painting of Judith by Cecco Bravo, caught in the act.
As with his other painting of Judith, Cecco Bravo has depicted these women in soft and luminous tones in contrast to crisply drawn Baroque figures. At least, Judith is luminous – because the maid is hiding in the darkness of the shadows with only the contours of her face in light. At the center of the composition is Judith’s shoulder below her face that is downcast in concentration on her victim. In fact, Cecco Bravo has almost created a trick of the eye with the soft, white shoulder and the intense gaze – suggesting the posture of a lover looking down at the bed. That is, the trick works until the viewer traces the other shoulder to the fauchion in the dimness above Judith’s head – halfway out of the frame and ready to strike a mortal blow to Holofernes’ neck. At that point you then realize: all the softness was just a distraction and the hardness of Judith’s murderous intention is revealed.