Judith never lets them see her sweat

03 Jul

Of all the depictions of Judith that I have unearthed, this has to be the most grotesque. And disturbing. Once you get past the angels, that is.

Judith (1810) Jose Maria Vasques

Jose Maria Vázquez, “Judith beheading Holofernes ,” 1810, oil on copper, 55 x 41.5 cm, auctioned by Christie’s, New York, January 28, 2009 (Lot# 225)

The scene:   storm clouds gathering in the background as the maid anxiously watches the Assyrian soldiers milling around the camp.  Four winging cherubs hover above the action – holding back the heavy green curtains of the tent.  Holofernes lies naked on the bad (except for a strategically placed sheet) with his arms thrown back in agony as Judith calmly stands looking down at him … WITH THE FAUCHION HALFWAY THROUGH HIS NECK!!!

She doesn’t seem the least bit repulsed, as did Caravaggio’s Judith.

She doesn’t seem to be struggling, as did Gentileschi’s Judith.

Rather, the only emotion she appears to convey is “concentration” – as if to be thinking “Hmm, if I had hit him with the blade a little to the left, maybe this wouldn’t be so hard.  The cut isn’t going to be as smooth as I had hoped, but I can make up for that after we get the head back to Bethulia.”  No concern about mussing her dress or her sandals.  No exertion or repugnance.  You might suspect that she does this everyday.

At least i hope she changes her dress.

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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Gory


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