Judith: Before and After

13 Dec


Antonio Gionima (1697–1732), “Judith Presenting Herself to Holofernes,” 1720s, Oil on canvas, 171.45 x 125.73 cm, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


Antonio Gionima (1697–1732), “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1720s, Oil on canvas, 177×88 cm, reported in 1984 Antique market, Turin, Italy – photo in Federico Zeri Foundation, University of Bologna, Italy )

This before-and-after of Judith is the work of Antonio Gionima, a partner of the late-Baroque period who exemplified the grand classical style of 18th-century Bologna. His promising career was cut short by his death from tuberculosis at age thirty-five.

Many of Gionima’s surviving works illustrate Old Testament subjects in strongly expressive compositions, dramatic chiaroscuro, and the elaborate mixing of wash, white bodycolour and occasionally oil paint in his drawings. Some considered him to be the most exciting painter in Bologna in the decade before his death. But Gionima appears to have a marketing problem: most of his commissions were not for public sites but instead went to private collectors – and thus he was neglected by later critics.

Which might explain how I got this far in the blog without noticing his work.

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If you want to see a much more colorful image of “Judith Presenting Herself to Holofernes” (though much smaller), jump over to Artwork of the month: Judith (December 10, 2008) in the blog The Aesthetics of Composition in Abstract Painting. He must have a better camera than the museum. While you’re there, check out the other Judith’s residing in Minneapolis. She appears to be quite popular there.














Posted by on December 13, 2017 in No category


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4 responses to “Judith: Before and After

  1. oatmealgirl09

    December 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Hmm… so what makes the blog author assume that Rosie the Riveter is godfearing?

    • judith2you

      December 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      I probably said it but can’t find a reference to Rosie on this post. Where is it?

      • oatmealgirl09

        December 18, 2017 at 10:19 pm

        It wasn’t you who said it. The reference to “the blog author” was to the writer of The Aesthetics of Composition in Abstract Painting. The whole quote was: “The character Judith is a powerful archetype that has been played over and over again. I would even consider Rosy the Riveter to fall into the same archetype as Judith. A strong willed, self-reliant, powerfully intelligent god fearing woman, and a patriot. The Archetype is common throughout history and used as propaganda when needed to inspire a nation.”

        What happened to Judith after she saved her people? Rosie the Riveter – all the Rosies – got tossed out after the men came back from the front. I was just listing to a report on a wartime woman welder who got laughed at when she applied for jobs as a welder. During the war she had been celebrated for her skill.

        As for Judith, she doesn’t even make into the Tanakh aka Old Testament. Old Testament or New, women have been disappeared. (Sorry for sounding off like that… )

        o.g. (Judy)

      • judith2you

        January 10, 2018 at 11:04 am

        Yes … well … Judith was kicked out of the Old Testament because she was redundant with David and Goliath. Kind of hard to compete with a kid who grew up to be King and write Psalms. Also, Judith lacked David’s after-story because she returned to traditional duties: “21 After the victory celebration, everyone went back home, and Judith returned to her place in Bethulia. She was famous everywhere in Israel for as long as she lived. 22 Although a lot of men asked to marry her, she always refused and never remarried after her husband Manasseh died.” Which (as you noted) is a similar fate to Rosie the Riveter – although Rosie was compelled to marry and bear children as part of her traditional Post-War duties. With respect to Rosie being described as “god fearing,” my guess is that the author made an assumption based on the virtues of wartime America in which over 65% of the population identified as religious participants ( and many more behaved according to the moral rules of religion, even if not participants.

        But never apologize for sounding off! After all: What Would Judith Do??


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