Monthly Archives: July 2019

Judith has her hands full

It was not that long ago that I visited Fede Galizia’s more famous Judith with the head of Holofernes.And while the version pictured here is lovely – especially her braided and beaded coiffure – it does not have the details that are present in the Ringling Museum’s painting.

Judith () Fede Galizia

Fede Galizia (1578-1630), Judith with the Head of Holofernes, oil on canvas 82.3 x 66.6 cm, auctioned by Christie’s Old Master Paintings and Sculpture, Lot 251, May 1, 2019, New York, NY. USA

Plus, it does have an awkward aspect. Judith must have unusually strong hands for a woman in order to simultaneously hold Holofernes’ very large, hairy head and the massive fauchon. Or be oblivious to the consequences of letting that sword fall … again.


Posted by on July 30, 2019 in No category


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Judith prays for strength

At least, that is what I imagine she is asking for in this dramatic  portrayal of the moment before she decapitates Holofernes. He lies drunkenly on the bed, half awake and half unconscious – prophetically exposing the back of his neck to the viewer. Meanwhile the maid is keeping watch, holding the flap of the tent closed to the view of the rest of the Assyrian camp.

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Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682–1754), “Judith and Holofernes”, oil on canvas, 42.0 x 31.3 cm, Private collection

And then there is Judith, young and afraid. She looks heavenward, presumably seeking strength for the deed she must commit. Physical strength to wield the faucon and emotional strength to brutally murder another human being.

Piazzetta has once again captured the feeling of the moment. Previously, we have seen Piazzetta depict Judith reaching for the sword, Judith staring down her victim with the sword drawn, and Judith with sword raised. I surmise we are somewhere between reaching for the sword and staring down the victim. A point at which she has time to consider her action and her conflicting emotions about such a grisly and dangerous endeavor.

And time to breath a quick prayer.

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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in No category


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Judith forgets

Judith () Bryson Burroughs .png

Bryson Burroughs (1868-1934), The return of Judith, 1912, oil on canvas , 61.6 x 76.2 cm, auctioned by Christie’s Interiors, Lot 12, October 1-2, 2013, New York, NY, USA

Maid:  Excuse me, madam, but … did we forget something?

Judith:  No, I don’t think so. I have the fauchon right here in my hand.

Maid: Yes you do, although you forgot to wipe off the blood. And then there’s the …

Judith:  And I have my shawl. And I remembered my jewelry.

Maid:  Yes you did. But you don’t have the top to your gown. And then there’s the …

Judith:  You might be right. I do feel like I’m forgetting something. Like I went in the tent for some reason and now … dang, I’m so exhausted I can’t think straight and I can’t seem to get ahead.

Maid:  Bingo!


It may seem that I make light of this work, but actually I find it very appealing.  This work of Bryson Burroughs demonstrates his classicism (obsession with narrative content, traditional pictorial perspective, and figuration) and his emulation of Puvis de Chavannes, the muralist. The similarity of their styles is seen in “an overall simplification of the painted surface, a reduction of modeling to eliminate chiaroscuro, an emphasis on linear outline to delineate major passages, a palette of lighter tonality, and a preference for subdued subjects based on religion and mythology.” (1,2)

But Burroughs’ true claim-to-fame was serving as Curator of Painting for the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 28 years. He continued to paint scenes of biblical stories and Greek myths. However it was suggested that Burroughs knew he could never contribute to high art, and he painted these “affectionate fantasies as a respite from being art’s servant.” (3)

(1) Child’s Gallery, Bryson Burroughs.

(2) Douglas Dreishpoon, The Paintings of Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934)New York: Hirschl & Adler, 1984

(3) Vivien Raynor, ART: BRYSON BURROUGHS, WORK INSPIRED BY MYTH, New York Times, March 2, 1984.

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Posted by on July 28, 2019 in No category, Whorey


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Judith, now that you know where to look

Last week, I revived the blog after thinking I had exhausted the artwork of Judith. Wrong.


Jacques Stella, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c.1624-25, Oil and gold on slate, 14×26.7 cm, Collection of Robert M. Edsel, Dallas, TX, USA (1)


And last week I posted the work of Jacques Stella for the first time. Now here is he again. And again!

Judith () Jacques Stella

Circle of Jacques Stella (1596-1657), “Judith and Holofernes,” oil on slate, octagonal, 37.5 x 38.6 cm, Auctioned by Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings, October 27, 2015, Lot 430, London, UK

Stella was born in Lyon but spent 1616 to 1621 in the court of Cosimo II de Medici in Florence. On Cosimo’s death in 1621 Stella moved to Rome, where he was influenced by classicism and he art of Nicolas Poussin, with whom he became an intimate friend. Stella won a reputation over the next 10 years for his paintings, small engravings and painted work on stones (onyx, lapis-lazuli or simply slate).

I do appreciate his use of the color red.  In Judith with the Head of Holofernes, as contrast to the dark red of her dress, the vibrant red of her skirt is mix of orange and pink (Vermilion? Crimson? Scarlet? Coral?) that attracts the eye away from Holofernes’ corpse. In Judith and Holofernes, the red of her dress is more intense red (Carmine? Cardinal? Venetian? Persian?) that offsets the blood spatter from Holofernes’ wound.

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Now I wonder if Mark Rothko ever considered painting a Judith?


Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958, Oil on canvas, 259.1 × 294.6 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA


(1) Exhibited in “From the Private Collections of Texas: European Art, Ancient to Modern,” Nr. 19, 22 November 2009 – 21 March 2010, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

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Posted by on July 27, 2019 in No category


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Now for something completely different (XVIII)

Dead to Me.

Possibly the words that Judith uttered to Holofernes’ head, but also the title of a Netflix series – with a main character named Judy.


Linda Cardellini plays Judy Hale in Netflix’s dark comedy series ‘Dead to Me’

Dead to Me‘ is the story of a Jen, a sardonic widow determined to solve the hit-and-run that killed her husband. Optimistic free spirit Judy has recently suffered a tragic loss of her own. The ladies meet at a support group and, despite their polar-opposite personalities, become unlikely friends. As the women bond over bottles of wine and a shared affinity for “The Facts of Life,” Judy tries to shield Jen from a shocking secret that could destroy her life as she knows it. The dark comedy explores the weirdly funny sides of grief, loss and forgiveness.

Portraying Jen, Christina Applegate has been nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy.

But Linda Cardellini as Judy Hale is the real star in my sky.

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Posted by on July 26, 2019 in No category



Judith with great charisma and dignity

Tapestry, Tapestry, 16. / 17. Flanders. Tapestry! Tapestry! Verdure

And for only EUR 4.200,00, she can be yours! On eBay!


“Antique 16/17th Century Flemish Historical Tapestry, Featuring Judith and Holofernes.”

Part of an original, very large tapestry from the 16/17 Century, as they ordered ruling aristocratic houses in Flanders. Formerly owned by Clemens von Ketteler – see Wiki. It shows scenes from the Book of Judith (Bible). In the church of San Nicolás de Bari, Burgos, a tapestry dating back to the early 16th century hangs on this theme. A piece with great charisma and dignity! So rare in the market! Good drawing! The warrior in the foreground wears the typical equipment and weapons of the 16th century. The helmet of the warrior is a Burgonet Italy until 1550, in the style of Filippo Negrolis …. which is helpful for dating … about 240×150. The piece can be picked up. Paypal yes. Worldwide shipping. Shipping Worldwide.


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Posted by on July 25, 2019 in No category


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Judith and the family affair

Yesterday’s post was about Pietro della Vecchia, and by coincidence, today’s post is about his father-in-law – Nicolas Régnier.

Nicolas Regnier

Nicolas Regnier (1591-1667), Judith with the Head of Holofernes (17th century), oil on canvas, 134 x 96 cm, Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid, SP

Nicolas Régnier was born between 1590 and 1591 in Maubeuge – at the time part of the Spanish Netherlands, now France.   He was likely apprenticed to the workshop of Abraham Janssens, who travelled to Italy and became familiar with the work of Caravaggio. Around 1615, Régnier traveled to Rome to the workshop of Bartolomeo Manfredi, one of Caravaggio’s followers. Manfredi put him in contact with the Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani, patron of Caravaggio, for whom he produced numerous works. Towards 1626 he made a trip to Venice and adopted a more superficial and simple style, enhanced by his contact with Guido Reni and Alessandro Tiarin. Regnier then specialized in portraits and altarpieces, often counting on his four daughters as models. One of those daughters, Clorinda, married Pietro della Vecchia – and another, Lucrezia, married Daniel van den Dyck. (1,2,3)
It is reported that the family unit (Régnier, his two daughters and two son-in-laws) painted wall decorations in the Palazzo Pesaro in Preganziol – a villa now lost to history. (4) Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that family interaction!


  1. José Juan Pérez Preciado. In: E.M.N.P, 2006, Volume V, p.1821-1822
  3. Didier RyknerNicolas Régnier – Author : Annick LemoineLa Tribune de l’Art, 3 décembre 2008  (very detailed biography)
  4. Nicola Ivanoff, Daniele van den Dyck, in: Emporium, CXVIII(1953), pp. 244-250 (in Italian)
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Posted by on July 24, 2019 in No category


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Judith in a cramped space

Is it me, or is Holofernes’ head disproportionally large?

Pietro della Vecchia (Pietro Muttoni)

Pietro della Vecchia (Pietro Muttoni)(1603/5-1678), “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” c. 1635-50, oil on canvas, 73.03 x 125.73 cm, Minneapolis Museum of Art, Minneapolis, MN, US

Perhaps we should compare the circumference to that of two other paintings of Judith by della Vecchia, one earlier and one later in time.

The comparisons also reveal the changing style of Pietro della Vecchia across his lifetime.  Della Vecchia was initially influenced by the artists of his native Venice: Titian and Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Strozzi, Giorgione, also Saraceni and Leclerc (his presumed masters). After 1650, his works evolved into macabre themes with spectral light and lack of space that characterized Venetian painting of the 17th century. Although the date on this painting is a range from 1635 to 1650, the composition does reflect the grotesque theme of decapitation with dramatic lighting and crowded space that were typical to his later work.

Especially cramped space when you consider the size of Holofernes’ head.


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Posted by on July 23, 2019 in No category


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Judith takes a seat

Leonard Sustris has now joined the ranks of other artists who painted multiple portraits of Judith. This is number three – that I can locate. There is apparently a copy somewhere in Cologne and another version auctioned in London, according to the catalog note for this painting – bringing the total to five Judith’s.

Sustris (1550)Judith

Lambert Sustris (c. 1515-1560), Judith with the Head of Holofernes (c. 1550), oil on canvas, 84.2 x 63.1 cm, auctioned bySotheby’s Old Master & British Paintings Day Sale, 10 July 10, 2014, London, UK

This version isn’t quite as elaborate or dynamic as the two I discussed previously here and here.  In those versions, Judith seems to be on her way out of the tent with the head in tow. In contrast, in this painting she appears to be sitting … like a portrait. In fact, it was not unusual for wealthy patrons to request that their portraits depict them as characters from history and myth. And Sustris did paint portraits, so that could explain the static demeanor of the sitter as Judith.

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Posted by on July 22, 2019 in No category


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Judith out and about: Sarasota

Months ago – before Florida hit 90 degrees and 90% humidity – I visited the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.  My goal was to visit two Judith’s: Francesco del Cairo and Fede Galizia.

And they are displayed next to each other! Thanks to the Ringling for making this quest so much easier!


And another Thanks to the Ringling for a very informative card for this duo, with the attention to and respect for Judith that is deserved.


I was a little obsessed with Judith’s headpiece in the portrait by del Cairo and was pleased to be able to see it in person.  Even up close  and in person, it is still an extremely large hat. In the mid-1600s when this painting was executed, such hats were not in fashion (in fact, women were wearing a dainty frill or tight cap) – so this is del Cairo’s impression of Old Testament attire. In fact, it was noted in Wikipedia “Many of his works are eccentric depictions of religious ecstasies; the saints appear liquefied and contorted by piety. He often caps them with exuberant, oriental turbans.”

But don’t let this headpiece detract from the luminosity of this portrait, because the lighting is exquisite as it falls on her profile, her décolletage, and her hand. So exquisite that I almost didn’t notice the decapitated head on the table.


While Fede Galizia’s portrait may not be as dramatic as that of del Cairo, it makes up for the drama with detail. Lots and lots of detail in the fabric and trim of the gown and in the strands of jewels. The luster of both the brocade and the pearls is amazing to behold – and there are a multitude of pearls! It’s just that Holofernes is lacking an inner radiance.



Oh … and there was a slutty Salome around the corner. Stay there.img_1632-1.jpg










Rounding out the day, the grounds and the other museums are of interest. The Museum of Art is one of three museums on the property. The other two are also worth a visit as you enjoy the beautiful grounds.

  • The Circus Museum details the history of the Ringling brother and how they built The Greatest Show on Earth.
  • The Ca’ d’Zan (“House of John” in the dialect of their beloved Venice) was the home of John and Mable Ringling that they designed in the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzos on the Venice canals.



Posted by on July 21, 2019 in Exploring