RSS

Category Archives: Glory

acclaim, accolade, applause, credit, distinction, homage, honor, kudos, laud, laurels, props, praise, renown – in which Judith is depicted as glorious

Judith as the Runner Up

This rather ferocious Judith is one of those artworks that seems to be lost. Not just to me – but truly lost.

François Victor Bazin (1897-1956), “Judith and Holofernes,” 1925 (Prix de Rome)

The sculpture titled “Judith and Holofernes” is the work of François Victor Bazin (1897-1956), and it won runner-up for the 1925 Prix de Rome  – a scholarship that supports French art students in Rome.  Bazin was enrolled in the the Paris École des Beaux-Art at the age of 16, after his parents returned from teaching as engravers and medalists in Chile during his childhood.  But three years later in 1916 during the First World War, he joined the fledgling French air force and was assigned to Escadrille SPA.164, passing his pilot’s license in 1918.

(And for those who don’t know about the French air force: SPA means his division flew bi-planes manufactured by SPAD – Société Pour L’Aviation et res Derives. Bi-planes … think about it.)

“Vieux Charles 2” Spad VII (1916), Le Bourget Air and Space Museum, Paris, France

After the war, Bazin completed his studies and was contacted by the Hispano Suiza Company to create the radiator cap of their future cars. They requested that it be based on the bird motif that adorned the bi-plane “Vieux Charles” flown by French national hero Georges Guynemer. Bazin was so successful that between 1920 and 1935 he created a large number of mascots for car bonnets (“les bouchons de radiator” aka hood ornaments): Stork (1920, Hispano Suiza), Mangbetu Woman (Cruise Black Citroen), Triumph (Isotta Fraschini), elephant head (Latil), Centaur (Unic), Unicorn (Unicorn). Several have been recast by Bazin’s granddaughter and can be purchased here.

“Cigogne” for the Hispano Suiza

“Tête d’éléphant” for the Latil

“Triomphe” for the Isotta Fraschini

“Licorne” for the Licorice

“Centaure” for the Unic

“Tête de Femme Mangbetu” for Citroën

Bazin also completed commissions for numerous commemorative public monuments in Brittany that span the two World Wars, including:

  • A bronze and two bas-reliefs on the monument to Jean Bourhis, an early French aviator (1922)
  • “Aux bigoudens” by the side of the river at Pont-l’Abbé (1931)
  • “Aux filles de la mer” near the Pont Firmin in the rue Jacques Cartier in Quimper (1939)
  • Bronze for the tomb of Adolphe Duparc in Quimper’s Cathédrale Saint-Corentin (1946)
  • Monument to the Bretons of Free France, known as the Cross of Pen-Hir (1949)
  • He also was an accomplished medallist for municipalities in the region

Unfortunately I can find no record of what happened to his statue of Judith that nearly won the prize. His grand-daughter, Julie Bazin, is equally perplexed. We both thought that the Beaux Arts might still have it because they have traditionally kept the works of former students in their collections – and because they have Bazin’s plaster bust “La Volonté” which he completed for the school’s competition “La Tête d’expression” in 1922. However, in her correspondence with them, Mme Bazin has yet to receive information on its location.

In the meantime, she was kind enough to share these additional photographs.

François Victor Bazin (1897-1956), “Judith and Holofernes,” courtesy of Julie Bazin, fbazin.com

Alas, it would be amazing to see firsthand the intensity of this Judith. Standing on the balls of her feet, she is arched forward.  Her left hand holding the fauchion is extended fully behind her and her right hand holding the severed head is extended fully upward in front of her. Her head is slightly bowed with the exertion. She reminds me of a dancer or a diver giving her full energy to reaching outside herself, poised to launch forward with her bloody prize.

Yes, I can envision this as an appropriately feminist les bouchons de radiator for my next SUV.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Glory

 

Tags: , ,

Judith makes a Happy Homemaker

My trip to The Dayton Art Institute re-envigorated my work on this blog and the pursuit of All Things Judith. I honestly thought I had exhausted the catalog of depictions of Judith – at least those from the before 2010. But I was wrong, and I am happy to be wrong (n this case only): there is more Judith to be found.

And some of it is not so far away.

In Judith Goes Exploring (I), I mused about a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts to view Titian’s “Judith with the head of Holofernes” and Gentileshi’s “Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes.” But somehow I missed this statuette by Antonio del Pollaiuolo.

Antonio del Pollaiuolo (1432-1498), “Judith”, c1470, bronze with traces of gilding, 50.8×22.9×10.2 cm,The Detroit Institute of Arts/Gift of Eleanor Clay Ford, Detroit, MI

 

Antonio del Pollaiuolo was a Renaissance artist in Florence – painter, sculptor, engraver and goldsmith – which leads me to ponder both the Renaissance and Florence and where he fit in with the other artists of his time period.  It is said the Renaissance began in Florence in the 14th century, spurred by a melting pot of factors including the unique political, social and civic aspects of Florence and the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici. The renewed interest in classical Greek and Roman aesthetics led to a humanistic and rational approach to literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, and religion – the focus turning to realism.  One of the major masterpieces of the Early Renaissance are the bronze doors of the Flofence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti that became famous from their unveiling and influenced subsequent artistic expression. And Pollaiuolo is part of this masterpiece, training in Ghiberti’s workshop along with other rising artists of the time: Donatello, Masolino, Michelozzo, and Uccello.

Of course, Donatello went on to produce his sublime David (c.1440s) and vicious Judith and Holofernes (1457–64). In fact, Pollaiuolo’s statuette has much in common with Donatello’s life size bronze, in terms of her flowing robes and the arm raised with the fachion. But Pollaiuolo’s Judith is minus the dying Holofernes at her feet and appears to be in a better mood with a slight smile on her face.

Perhaps there is a reason for her pleasant expression. Roger J. Crum, in The Sword Of Judith (Brine, Ciletti, and Lähnemann, 2010) surmises that – while David became the public face of Florence’s patriotism – while Judith was essentially back to her domestic life.

Whether representing the act of killing Holofernes, or literally showing a subsequent return to Bethulia, Florentine representations of Judith all variously imply or directly reference the eventual return to domestication of the heroine … Florentine images of Judith were predominantly private and domestic objects. With the exception of Ghiberti’s representation of Judith on the Gates of Paradise, which was obviously for public display, Donatello’s celebrated bronze group, several examples from Botticelli and his circle, a bronze statuette by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, and two engravings attributed to Baccio Baldini all come from the private sphere or were clearly intended for reception in non-public, intimate environments.

So this Judith becomes a household object – something to be a semblance and reminder of feminine virtues. And if you want your Judith to represent a Happy Homemaker, this particular statuette would fit the part nicely.

More reason for me to find time for that trip to Detroit!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Glory

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Judith, the broken woman

Sometimes artists get lost in the shuffle of time, and their art is shuffled as well.  Such is the fate of René Letourneur, a French sculptor who flourished after the first World War and until the 1970’s.  A medal winner at his first exhibition – the 1922 Salon des Artistes Français,- he went on to win the Médaille d’Or at the Exposition des Arts décoratifs et industriels in 1925, and then the Premier Grand Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1926.  It was this last win that connects him to Judith, since she was the subject of his winning sculpture.

Alas, there are two pieces of data that lead to the actual sculpture of Judith:  a newspaper clipping and a catalog of works from the collections of the L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

The newspaper clipping:  This is the only contemporary photo of Judith, shown in it’s original state.  It must have been a beauty to win the Premier Grand Prix de Rome – established in 1663 during the reign of Louis XIV of France, the French scholarship for arts students that pays for them to study in Rome for three to five years.

Judith (1926) René Letourneur

Chicago Tribune August 22, 1926 edition from the Janet A. Ginsburg Chicago Tribune Collection, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, US

After this win and three years in Rome, Letourneaur was appointed a commission from the Ecuadorian government to create a monument to Simon Bolivar.  The result was a gigantic bronze frieze (12 x 10 m) depicting the nation’s liberator supported by winged victories, leading his men to triumph. During WWII, he joined the French Resistance and worked as a journalist for the Panorama review.  After the war, he continue to combine art and architecture in official commissions such as the war memorial in Alençon, facade of the Gambetta lycée in Arras, and two statues on the Pont du Pecq.  He finished his career as an art teacher. (1)

And what about Judith?

The catalog:  Students of the L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts maintain a digital catalog of collections inherited from the Royal Academies, augmented by prestigious donations and school work until 1968.(2)  This is the only place to find the prize-winning Judith – now broken and stained.  And missing Holofernes’ head as well as her hand.  My guess is she exists in a storage room somewhere with only memories of her former splendor.

 

Judith (1926) René Letourneur 2

René Letourneur (1898-1990), “Judith, after returning to Bethulia beheaded Holofernes, pulls from her purse that face it shows to the crowd,” 1926, Ronde-bosse en plâtre, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, FR

 

Age is so unkind to women.  Even those made of plaster …

 

(1) Catherine Bedel, The works of the sculptor, René Letourneur, on sale in a Paris gallery,  Le Monde, 19 March 2004.

(2) Cat’zArts, Judith, rentrant à Béthulie après avoir tranché la tête à Holopherne, tire de son sac cette tête qu’elle montre à la foule. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Glory

 

Tags: , , , ,

Judith and the Nine Worthies

I had heard of the Seven Dwarves and the Eight Maids A-Milking, but never have I heard of The Nine Worthies – until today.

The Nine Worthies were characters selected in the Middle Ages to personify the ideals of chivalry and whose symbols became the basis for heraldic imagery.  They were called Les Neuf Preux in France, in Italy i Nove Prodi, and in Germany Neun Helden – meaning “Nine Valiants” – which suggests the characters were selected to represent soldierly courage and generalship. (1)   The original Nine Worthies depicted in a Hans Burgkmayr engraving (1516) included –

  • three pagans (Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar)
  • three Jews from the Old Testament (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus)
  • three Christians from the Middle Ages (King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon)

Out of love of symmetry, the Middle Ages also produced the Nine Worthy Women (Les Neuf Preusesneun Heldinnen), and although the lists often vary, they always include Esther and Judith (2):

  • three pagans (Lucretiawife of Brutus, Veturia – mother of Coriolanus, Verginia – whose death prompted the re-establishment of the Roman Republic)
  • three Jewesses from the Old Testament (Esther, Judith and Jael)
  • three Christians from the Middle Ages (St Helena – mother of Constantine the Great, St Brigita of Sweden, and St Elisabeth of Hungary).
hans-burgkmair-d-ae-three-jewish-heroes-esther-judith-and-jael-art-poster-print

Hans Burgkmair, “Three Jewish heroine: Esther, Judith and Jael,” 1516

 

The heraldic symbols for Judith are described as Gules on a bend sinister argent a ? sable” – which somehow looks like “Gulls on a bent spinster agent named Sable.”   Actually  in the language of heraldry,

  • gules – either the color red or a region of vertical lines
  • bend sinister – a band running from the upper dexter (the bearer’s right side and the viewer’s left) corner of the shield to the lower sinister (the bearer’s left side, and the viewer’s right)
  • argent – the background color, Silver
  • sable – Black, somewhere in there

One of the best depictions of the Nine Worthy Women is found in Pierrefonds Castle, Oise, France.  The castle is a medieval structure that had fallen into ruin, but Napoleon III commissioned its repair which took over 25 years (1857 to 1885) and produced an idealised interior typical of the romantic period. (3)  One of the most imposing features is the gallery of Les Neuf Preux and Les Neuf Preuses.

Judith (1860-85) Nine Worthies1

“Les Neuf Preuses,” 1860-1885, Pierrefonds Castle, Oise, France

Judith (1860-1885) Nine Worthies2

“Les Neuf Preuses”, 1860-1885, Pierrefonds Castle, Oise, France

 

 

Tsk, it’s too hard to see Judith second from the left. So I’ll give you a little help.

Judith (1860-85) Pierrefonds Castle 1

“Judith in Les Neuf Preuses,” 1860-1885, Pierrefonds Castle, Oise, France

Judith () Nine Worthies2

“Judith in Les Neuf Preuses,” 1860-1885, Pierrefonds Castle, Oise, France

Yes, definitely a worthy depiction of Judith. On a pedestal. Wearing a crown. Welding a very imposing sword.  I’d consider this to be satisfactory – even if the shield does not match the previous description.

 

 

(1) Cyclopaedia:  The Nine Worthies.

(2) François Velde, Heraldica: The Nine Worthies.

(3) Eupedia, Pierrefonds Castle Travel Guide.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Glory

 

Tags: , , ,

Judith falls in love (again)

The New York Times, Art & Design Section, January 28, 2015: “Kehinde Wiley Puts a Classical Spin on His Contemporary Subjects,” By Deborah Solomon

Kehinde Wiley began thinking about the stereotypes that shadow black men long before events in Ferguson, Mo., pushed the phrase “unarmed black man” back into the headlines and inaugurated a new wave of the civil rights movement…

Now 37, Mr. Wiley is one of the most celebrated painters of his generation. He is known for vibrant, photo-based portraits of young black men (and occasionally women) who are the opposite of scared — they gaze out at us coolly, their images mashed up with rococo-style frills and empowering poses culled from art history.

And as testament to the opposite of scared – bold, brave, cool, courageous, confident, encouraged – Wiley stands in front of his latest portrait of (ta-DA) Judith!!

Kehinde Wiley (2015) Chad Batka for The New York Times

Kehinde Wiley (2015), photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times

 

I loved the first Judith by Wiley this first time I saw her, discussed in (obviously) Judith Falls in Love on March 29, 2013.  This second Judith – actually Judith Beheading Holofernes – is part of Wiley’s first museum retrospective “A New Republic” at the Brooklyn Museum, opening February 20.  It then travels to museums in Fort Worth, Seattle and Richmond, VA.  So I know get to decide where I would most like to view this Judith as we travel the US of A.  In which case, I can obtain the medium and dimensions to add to my specs.

But in the meantime, this is the best I can do.  Judith dressed as a Capulet on a ground of orange nasturtiums and light blue fleur-de-lis – swinging the head of a very feminine Holofernes.

And holding a Very Pointy Knife.  Which I don’t think is used for food preparation.

Judith (2012)

Kehinde Wiley, “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” 2012, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY, USA. Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

 

Thanks to oatmealgirl09 for bringing this to my attention!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Glory

 

Tags: , , ,

Judith in alabaster

Alabaster is the common name for soft, smooth, fine-grained sedimentary gypsum rock – popular because it is soft and easy to work or carve.

Alabaster has been used since the beginning of time to carve decorative items, both large and small.

Alabaster can be worked to show varying degrees of low and high relief such that “the luminous alabaster surface highlights the powerful folds of fabric and accentuates the elegant movement of the figures.” (1)  And the death-clutch of the headless body in the bed.

Oval alabaster relief

Oval alabaster relief of Judith and Holofernes, c. 1600, alabaster in a later gilt wood frame, 31 x 26.7 cm, auctioned by Christie’s, New York, January 28, 2009 (lot  #21)

 

This example of alabaster carving comes from the late 1500s to early 1600s in Germany, probably designed to adorn the interior of a residence or to exhibit in a collection.  As described by Aleksandra Lipińska in the essential text on alabaster from Northern Europe, this alabaster seems to be typical of the pieces produced in that time and place:

Old Testament stories were usually selected for their potential to be construed as allegories of secular virtues (e.g. the Judgment of Solomon as a allegory of just government) or as scenes with the potential for exploiting erotic suggestion (Lot and his daughters). Such scenes tended to be stylised in the antique fashion: scenes peopled with figures dressed in tunics and issued with Roman armour were played out against backgrounds of ancient ruins, with distant panoramas of towns featuring buildings resembling Greek temples or Italian palaces. (2, p268)

But the description in Otto Naumann’s art house catalogue uncovered something truly unique about this piece and the previous owners.

The present work once hung in the library of Clifford Ambrose Truesdell (1919-2000), a professor of Rational Mechanics at Johns Hopkins University and an influential figure in twentieth century science.  Evidently, this subject was of particular interest to Professor Truesdell and his wife, who had their own likenesses represented as Judith and Holofernes in a portrait on the opposite wall.(1)

Wow. I would love to know what Mrs. Truesdell did to convince Dr. Truesdell to assume that role – and whatever happened to that painting.  It would make a great addition to my collection.

(1) Otto Naumann Ltd.

(2)  Aleksandra Lipińska, Moving Sculptures: Southern Netherlandish alabasters from the 16th to 17th centuries in central and northern Europe. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2014.

+  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +

Postscript:  Once I found the story of the re-creation of Judith and Holofernes with the images of the owners of this alabaster,  I was fascinated.  Who WERE these people?  My investigation revealed: not just idle rich with too much time on their hands,

Clifford Ambrose Truesdell III is regarded as the founder of the modern science of rational mechanics and a leader in the study of thermodynamics.  He wrote or co-wrote 26 books, 268 papers and many book reviews, and was the winner of numerous international prizes and medals in mathematics.  In his spare time, Truedell was an ardent student of the Renaissance.  From his obituary in the Baltimore Sun (Jan 19, 2000)

Dr. Truesdell collected paintings and silver. He invited musicians and dancers to perform in his home, a granite and brick Palladian structure on a slight hill in Guilford, and often invited friends to attend candlelight musicales. For these soirees, Dr. Truesdell dressed in 18th-century attire, including a lace collar that had been made by his grandmother. His wife would be similarly attired. “They were a seamless totality and complimented each other. Their home was an ongoing work of art, and if you were there for an event, it was not easily forgotten,” said Gary Vikan, director of Walters Art Gallery.

And when I really poked around for a minute or two, I found images in the collection of The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History of Clifford and Charlotte Truesdell standing before the the study of their home “il Palazzetto.”  And in the background i swear is a Manneristic portrayal of Judith lifting the fauchion – that I would bet has the likenesses of Clifford and Charlotte.

06truesdells

Clifford and Charlotte Truesdell, photographed by the former in front of his study in Il Palazzetto, 1975, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

+  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +

COULD IT GET ANY BETTER!!!   Through a series of emails with the grandson of the Truesdell’s, he produced a photo of the painting!!!!    I noted that the selection of chose Judith and Holofernes was “not the most functional interaction to depict … but must have said something about their sense of humor and vision of their own relationship.”  And I received this very kind response from Cliff:

This painting was prominently in his study/office, so he basically lived with it every day. The word above the painting is “STRUIMUS” which is latin for “we build,” which was some sort of motto for them.

I think you’re right about their vision of their relationship and I appreciate the insight. I didn’t know them very well but in the limited time I spent with them it was clear that they were two of the most connected people I’ve ever met.
Judith Truesdell detail

Dr. and Mrs. Clifford Truesdell III as Judith and Holofernes, photographed over the fireplace of his study in Il Palazzetto, Baltimore, MD – courtesy of Cliff Truesdell

 

 

Yes, I do believe this has been the most edifying and entertaining posts to write.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Glory

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Judith in the stalls

Far away from here – west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, and south of the North Sea – lies the Dutch province of Fryslân (formerly known as Friesland).   And in the province of Fryslân lies the town of Bolsward, where stands the Martinikerk – a medieval church originally dedicated to Saint Martin.  And in the Martinikerk there are superlative carved oak choir stalls that date from about 1450.

The names of the carvers who embellished the Mediaeval choirs have, as a rule, been lost; and fire and iconoclasm have destroyed most of their work.  Some few relics, however, of the splendor of wood-carving as it existed before the Renaissance are still to be found. For elaborate oak carving of the fifteenth century, it would be hard to find a more interesting example than the carved oak stalls in the great church of Bolsward (Broederkerk) in Holland. (1)

The stall that interests me is behind the pulpit …

Bolsward - Martinikerk 1466 - Main Nave : Choir - View ENE on Preekstoel : Pulpit 1662 - Gothic Choirbenches 1490

Martinikerk, Main Nave and Choir View ENE on Pulpit (1662), Bolsward, Fryslân, NL – photo by txllxt TxllxT, http://www.panoramio.com

 

… on the North side, on the second set of stalls, in the upper side panel …

Bolsward, Martinikerk, Choir View NE on Gothic Choirbenches detail 1490

Martinikerk, Choir View NE on Gothic Choirbenches (1490), Bolsward, Fryslân, NL – photo by txllxt TxllxT, http://www.panoramio.com

 

… because that is where you find Judith and her maid in the act of decapitating Holofernes in his tent, under the intricate walls of the city of Bethulia, while his army of 3 men eat and drink in the corner …

Judith (1450) Martinikerk, stalls, north side, bench end 2

Martinikerk, choir stalls, north side bench end, “Judith” (1450) – photo by groenling, http://www.flickr.com

 

… and then they cleverly slip out the back of the tent to place the severed head in a bag to return to the city.

Judith (1450) Martinikerk, stalls, north side, bench end - back 2

Martinikerk, choir stalls, north side bench end, “Judith” (1450) – photo by groenling, http://www.flickr.com

Judith (1450) Martinikerk, stalls, north side, bench end - back

Martinikerk, choir stalls, north side bench end – detail, “Judith” (1450) – photo by groenling, http://www.flickr.com

 

(1) Esther Singleton, Dutch and Flemish Furniture.  London: : Hodder and Stoughton, 1907.

 

Honestly, the main attraction in the Martinikerk in Bolsward is the massive pipe organ built in 1781 by Albertus Anthoni Hinsz – not Judith.  I know very little about pipe organs – except they are huge, produce visceral vibrations of sound, and are very difficult to play.  Apparently this area of the Netherlands is known as The Organ Garden of Europe.  The following video very nicely takes you on a tour of Bolsward and the interior of Martinikerk to the gentle sounds of the organ played by Kees Nottrot and Jan Mulder.

A tremendous thank you to the talented photography of groenling on www.flickr.com and  on http://www.panoramio.com  – and the video talents of SuperWillbee – whose contributions are the next best thing to travel.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Glory

 

Tags: , , , , ,