Tag Archives: portrait

Judith, her mammaries and The Favourite

Following a long break, I’m bringing back Judith and her mammaries after viewing Yorgos Lanthimos’s film, The Favourite. Because I recognized those mammaries in the background of numerous scenes in Queen Anne’s bedchamber. Only this time the mammaries being to Bethsheba by Jan Massys. Suggesting once again that all biblical brassieres must have been the same size.

Jan Matsys (1509–1575), “Bathsheba Observed by King David,” first half of 16th century, 110×76 cm, oil on panel, Private collection

Rachel Weisz, left, and Olivia Colman star in Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “THE FAVOURITE.” Copyright Notice: © 2018 Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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You may remember this from the section on the Private Display (12/12/11).   In which Judith has problems with impulse control and shakes the head around, singing “Nanny nanny boo boo.

Jan Massys, “Judith,” c.1530-1570, Palazzo Barberini, Rome, Italy

But if you do not remember, no problem.  Because Jan Massys painted Judith three more times.   Not quite up to the volume of LC the Elder but a good effort.

Jan Massys, 1543, Oil on panel, 102.2 x 75.6 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


This is the Boston Judith.    I would expect a little more modesty from matron of Massachusetts.   And I have a sneaky suspicion that Massys and Ambrosius Benson used the same model since they have the same misshapen breasts.    Unless that is what breasts looked like in Belgium during the Renaissance.


Jan Massys, “Judith and Holofernes,” 1545-50, Oil on panel, 106 x 75 cm, Louvre, Paris, France


This is the Paris Judith.  In a clever departure from the Boston Judith, Massys has placed the fauchion in her right hand and the head in her left hand instead of the fauchion in her left hand and the head in her right hand.   And pulled up her robe a bit over her pubic bone.


Jan Massys, 1575, Oil on panel, 115 x 80.5 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, Belgium


And this is the Antwerp Judith.   She appears to need a good cleaning because she is not nearly as bright as the Paris Judith.   Or maybe Massys’s eyesight was failing because this was executed at least 25 years after the other two.   Fashion must have changed in those 25 years because he stuck with the same right hand/left hand composition from the Paris Judith but added a gauze-y robe and arm bands.   However, it looks like breasts did not improve in the same time lapse.

But then again, if I were able to maintain perky tits for 250 years, maybe I would not care if they were widely spaced.

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Posted by on December 31, 2018 in Whorey


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Judith out and about: Bloomington

Oh my, where has the time gone? I am so far behind — so many Judith’s to discuss and so disorganized. But I must start somewhere so, this appears to be the spot.

In the center of the picturesque campus of Indiana University is the Art Museum. It is located on the Fine Arts Square, next to the centerpiece Showalter Fountain that depicts Venus being born from a clam shell amidst frolicking dolphins.  The Museum’s collection includes more than 45,000 works organized into nine curatorial areas, allowing visitors to take an extraordinary global journey through three floors in I. M. Pei’s iconic triangular building.  And almost immediately inside the first gallery is “Judith with the Head of Holofernes” by Matteo di Giovanni. (discussed in “Judith begins modeling,” January 9, 2012)

Judith (1490-1495) Matteo di Giovanni

Matteo di Giovanni, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” c.1490-95, Tempera on panel, 55.9 x 46 cm, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

It is actually larger than I imaged and prominently displayed at the gallery entrance.  Consequently, I was quite proud of our heroine.

And little further in is Antiveduto Grammatica’s “Judith with the Head of Holofernes.” (discussed  in “Judith gives directions,” November 7, 2011).  Not quite as impressive but much larger and worth a trip to the IU campus if you crave a Baroque Judith.

Judith (1591-1624) Antiveduto Grammatica (2)

Antiveduto Grammatica, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” c.1620–25, Oil on canvas, 120 x 93 cm, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Story


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Judith, meet Bacchus

There is more here than meets the eye. More pursuit of freedom and ecstasy.

Judith () Alexis Grimou

Alexis Grimou (1678-1733), “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 88 x 72 cm, Museum of King John III’s Palace at Wilanów, Warsaw, PL


This is a Judith by Alexis Grimou, a French painter who taught himself to paint by copying works of Van Dyck and Rembrandt.  According the to font of all knowledge, Wikipedia: “He painted mainly spirited portraits or portrait scenes, such as women singing and playing musical instruments. He was admitted to the Academy of Paris in 1705, but resigned complaining about the mediocrity of his peers.”  I imagine that observation made him a less-than-popular-guy.  Actually the French Wikipedia says “but his conduct, together with the insolence did off the list in 1709.”  Yes, a slightly different story.  It seems the truth is somewhere in between according to another source: “Although instructed by the Académie to paint as his morceaux de réception portraits of the sculptor Jean Raon (1630-1707) and the painter Antoine Coypel, he failed to present either picture and in 1709 the agrément was annulled.”

But he seems to have enjoyed himself in the ensuing years, as revealed in his self-portraits.  His style is described as “earthy” and harkens back to the Dutch Golden Age for portraits that defied the ascendent French classicism of the Academy.  Amidst this freedom of style, it is curious that he would have selected Judith as a theme – so it is likely this is a commissioned portrait in which the client selected Judith as a historical character to portray.  However, she looks a little uncomfortable with her role – too bad she did not join in the drinking.


Alexis Grimou (1680-1733), “Toper,” Oil on canvas. 101 x 81 cm, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusettes, USA


Alexis Grimou (1680-1733), “Toper,” Oil on canvas. 116.5 x 89.5 cm, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


Alexis Grimou (1680-1733), “Bacchus Self-Portrait,” 1728, Oil on canvas, 101 × 81 cm, Musée Magnin, Dijon, FR




Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Cacciatore


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Judith goes for the throat

The throat of an opera singer, that is.

Judith (2013) Tyson Vick 1

Tyson Vick, “The Widow of Manasses,” 2013,

You may recall that Tyson Vick has been here before in Judith finds her voice (Nov 2011).  His blog chronicles his photography that illustrates the operas of Mozart as well as his learning about textiles, historical costuming, wig styling, millinery, and photoshop techniques in the process.  This time he is back with more elaborate costuming and photography of Judith – and two big prizes for his photography! Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) – which includes members world-wide from all genres of photography, including fine art, commercial, and advertising – conducts two Members Only Competitions each year.  In 2014, Tyson Vick won first place in the Creative Division – Composite of Members Only First Half Competition with “Judith, Triumphant” AND third place for “Don Giovanni Act 2.”  But enough about Don Giovanni and back to Judith.

Judith (2013) Tyson Vick 2b

Tyson Vick, “Judith, Triumphant,” 2013,

Isn’t she stunning?  I mean, it’s easy to see why Holofernes lost his head. Not only is the photography award winning, but the costuming – based on the portraits of Judith by Lucas Cranach the Elder – is exquisite.  The construction of this luscious gown is detailed here, with lively commentary by Vick – who loves to indulge in one of my favorite things:  sewing in front of the television.  (Yes, I was groomed for genteel evenings with an embroidery hoop before the hearth rather than a sweaty hour of Zumba but alas those days are gone.)  Vick also photographed his progress so that the intricate details of the gown can be appreciated off the model.


Tyson Vick, “La Betulia Liberata – Costume Diary, A Cranach Gown,” May 14, 2012,


Tyson Vick, “La Betulia Liberata – Costume Diary, A Cranach Gown,” May 14, 2012,


Tyson Vick, “La Betulia Liberata – Costume Diary, A Cranach Gown,” May 14, 2012,

The final photograph is Judith in action, on stage during Act 2 of Mozart’s Betulia Liberata.  Composed in 1771 when Mozart was 15 years old, it is the only oratorio he ever wrote.  Maybe he thought one was enough?

Judith (2013) Tyson Vick 3

Tyson Vick, “La Betulia Liberata, Act 2,” 2013,


Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Story


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Judith has a follower

It’s St. Valentines’s Day  – a retail holiday to make lots of people feel like lovers and others feel like losers.  So it seems appropriate to post today on a Judith that makes me feel a little lovelorn – a work of art that has no name and no home.

Judith (early 1500s) Follower of Massimo Stanzione

Follower of Massimo Stanzione, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 104 x 82 cm

Previously I have explained that much of my time on this blog is invested in searching images.  One of those searches uncovered this Judith on  I am telling you this because I can’t find one other blessed scrap of information about it anywhere. She seems to have been abandoned. Here are the few things I do know:

  • On October 16, 2011, I wrote about Massimo Stanzione’s “Judith with the Head of Holofernes” that is housed at MMA in “Judith in a clutch”
  • Stanzione was an Italian Baroque painter, mainly active in Naples, influenced by Caravaggio, Carracci and Vouet,
  • He worked alongside Artemisia Gentileschi during the time she was in Naples.
  • While most of his themes were religious, one of his well-known secular paintings is “Woman in Neapolitan Costume” – (c.1635) which in some ways resembles this Judith.

Massimo Stanzione (1586-1656, “Woman in Neapolitan Costume,” 1635, oil on canvas, 46.75 x 38.25 in, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California, USA

How and why a painting is determined to be the work of a “follower” is a mystery to me. It doesn’t rival the quality of Stanzione’s work but the skirt has a realistic texture, the red fabric of the bodice and turban are vibrant, the tassels are especially jaunty and she sports a lovely necklace.  Perhaps this created by someone in the workshop who was trained in the details of apparel but not-so-much the proportion or portraiture.  Still, I find it sad that the artist was left with no name of his/her own and that the work is not housed somewhere to be admired. If anyone knows where this ended up or how much it sold for at auction, I would love to know.  Or if it is lying around in your attic, I will volunteer to take it off your hands.  I can always use another follower – or another Valentine.

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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Cacciatore


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Judith and the Inca Princess

Judith (1800) Inca Princess

Unknown, “Inca Princess (Gran Ñusta Mama Occollo),” c.1800, oil on canvas mounted on board, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO US


Revisionist history is always so fun.  You can make yourself into a saint or a savior – but no one ever comes out a sinner.  In this painting of the late colonial period of Peru, an ancestor as been posthumously portrayed as Gran Ñusta Mama Occollo – a mythical  deity of motherhood and fertility In legend she has two possible origins:

  • daughter of Inti (God of the Sun) and his sister-wife Mama Killa (Goddess of the Moon, marriage and the menstrual cycle) – OR
  • daughter of Viracocha (God of Everything) and Mama Qucha (Goddess of the Sea)

In either case, she married her brother Manco Cápac and came to earth from a cave (Pacaritambo Paqariq Tampu – 25 km south of Cusco) with a golden staff and the instructions to create a Temple of the Sun in Cusco – which meant uniting tribes to conquer the inhabitants of the Cusco Valley.

With regards to this painting:

The inscription claims that she was the first Christian Inca woman in the Andes and that when a man tried to violate her vow of chastity, she fought and beheaded him. In doing so, she recreated a feat credited to Mama Occllo, the first queen of the Inca dynasty, who conquered Cuzco by decapitating an enemy. Her deed also echoes that of the Old Testament’s Judith, who saved the Jewish nation by beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes.

– which is a little confusing since it sounds like Gran Ñusta Mama Occollo most likely invaded and conquered the original inhabitants of Cusco versus defended her city like Judith but … why bother with details when you are revising history based on a myth.

I’m just glad they included the maid.

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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Cacciatore


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Judith and Salome (again)

Urgh.  So frustrating.  She just won’t go away.  That pesky Salome is back. Again.

Judith () Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), “Judith with the sword of Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm, Stair Sainty Gallery, London, UK


Depending on which source you consult, this painting is sometimes identified as Judith and sometimes as Salome.  Marcel-Béronneau did specifically paint Salome numerous times – as did his teacher, Gustave Moreau, at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts.  In fact, Moreau did over seventy drawings of Salome, including SalomeSalome Dancing before Herod and Salome Brandishing the Head of John the Baptist.   And he was not the only one who was obsessed with the biblical story of Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils to obtain the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

It was notably the symbiosis of art and literature at the turn of the century that developed the image of Salome as a femme fatale. Salome was depicted numerous times by artists such as Gustave Moreau and Aubrey Beardsley. Oscar Wilde wrote his one-act play Salome, originally written in French, to shock audiences with its spectacle of perverse passions. Wilde’s play in turn became the source and inspiration for Richard Strauss’s one-act opera Salome, first produced in 1905. Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote about Moreau’s 1876 Salome in his seminal novel A Rebours (Against the Grain) making Salome the object of his hero’s fantasies of feminine evil. At the same time, Gustave Flaubert wrote his novel Herodias, and Stephane Mallarme was working on a poem entitled Herodiade. (1)

Sex sells.

Salome with the head of john the baptist ()

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Salome with the head of John the Baptist

Salome (  )

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Salome



Salome (1934)

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Salome, 1934

Salome the bird of prey ()

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Salome the bird of prey

Salome ()

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Salome, 1905


But Marcel-Béronneau gets credit for depicting more than just sex.   His work explored similar themes to that of Moreau (temptation, seduction, sensual pleasure, triumph, pain and death), but his treatment with thick impasto and broad brushstrokes was significantly different.  The style gives the appearance of mosaic or cracked ceramic, of texture and layers.

Although he followed Moreau with ornate scenes and “hypnotic” mythology and history along with the femme fatale, Béronneau’s later subjects more often appear strong and fierce – almost war-like.

 … Béronneau was equally fascinated by mythical landscape; his work presented the classical fables, mythologies and biblical stories in dream-like, utterly otherworldly contexts loaded with bright, seductive colour and layers of glazes, applied thinly to luminous effect.

The feminine, seen in such characters such as Salome, Herodias, Judith or St. Cecilia, is omnipresent in the work of Marcel Béronneau, but that feminine is often synonymous with threat or temptation. Though never evil creatures, Beronneau’s women often appear almost inhuman, and always fascinating. He makes the traditional attributes of these women pictorially literal – Leda becomes a ‘swan–woman’, Gorgon Medusa a ‘snake woman’ and the Sphinx half-female, half-leopard. (3)

This Judith (if she is Judith) exudes confidence in her direct gaze that confronts the viewer “with the same attitude history describes her: unquestionably empowered.” (3)  She is attired for battle with a headdress that looks like armor and a sword in her hands.   The hilt of the sword is a nude male figure, suggesting that Judith’s conflict was both in and out of Holofernes’ bed.

Another noticeable element of Marcel-Béronneau’s work:  the repeated use of the ethereal model, Germaine Marchant.  After falling deeply in love with her, Marcel-Béronneau painted her obsessively as his representation of the femme fatale and then married her in 1918.  In his depiction of Marchant, she appeared to have a face like Angelina Jolie – with a straight and symmetrical nose, wide lips in full pout, and heavily lidded eyes the color of pale green glass under arched brows.

But of course!  Who else should portray Judith?

Le Datura

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Le Datura


Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau (1869–1937), Gorgon



(1) Catalogue Note: Pierre-Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, Salome, 19th Century Paintings Including Spanish Painting And Symbolism & The Poetic Vision.  Sotheby’s, London, 4 November 2007 (Lot #263)

(2) Catalogue Note: Pierre-Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, Salome. Stair Sainty, London,

(3) Catalogue Note: Pierre-Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, Le Songe D’Orphee (Recto), Stair Sainty, London,

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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Whorey


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