Tag Archives: Siena

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 and the Fourth Wall

Andrea del Brescianino (del Piccinelli), “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” Oil on panel, 79.3 x 60 cm, Doria Pamphili, Rome, Italy

No, not the Third World.

The Fourth Wall is the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage through which the audience sees the action in a play. Accepting the transparency of the fourth wall makes it possible to suspend disbelief between fiction and the audience, allowing them to enjoy the story as if they were observing real events. But sometimes an actor will “break the Fourth Wall” for dramatic or comedic effect by addressing the audience directly. Think of Ferris Bueller.

Judith broke the Fourth Wall. See her little smirk? I think it was for comedic effect.  Or else she has indigestion from the banquet.

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Distracted


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Judith runs away with the circus

Arcangelo Salimbeni, “Judith and Holofernes,” 16th century, fresco. Chigi Saracini, Siena, IT

The photograph of the fresco is very small, so I am speculating here but … looks like Judith has run away with the circus.   And lucky girl, this circus has two carrousels!

I wonder how much she can charge to view the Headless Man?

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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Cacciatore


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Judith begins modeling

As I mentioned before, the next ginormous section of this blog deals with portraits:   paintings of Judith that are not about a point in the storyline but have the sole purpose of showing how Judith might appear visually.   So we go back to the Renaissance, a turning point in the history of portraiture due to interest in the natural world and in the classical cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

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

And here is Matteo di Giovanni, depicting an idyllic and naturalistic landscape scene as background and using delicate, lyrical colors for his subject.    I can almost hear him telling Judith –

Matteo:   Yeah, baby.  I want you with the camp in the background.  That’s good.  Now show us that sword by raising it above your head just like you did in the tent.  Oh, that’s marvelous.   Not too high.   Now raise the hand a little by bending your left elbow.  Not too much.   Yes, that’s just right.   And now lower your chin just a little.   Turn you head slightly to your left.   Other left.   Oh work it, baby.  You’re scaring me!

Meanwhile, an unknown artist was making this portrait – but forgot to sign his name.

Somewhat similar, doncha think?   Except for the snazzy sandals.

unknown, “Judith,” 1505, Tempera on panel, 77 x 45 cm, Collezione Chigi Saracini, Siena, Italy


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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Story


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Judith does more with less

We are making some progress.  Judith is wearing half of a flimsy dress rather than no dress at all.

Domenico di Pace Beccafumi, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” c.1510, Oil on poplar panel, 86.2 x 47.5 cm, Wallace Collection, London, England, UK

This is the product of Domenico di Pace, adopted son of Lorenzo Beccafumi who lived in Siena.  While Florence thrived as the center of the Renaissance, Siena had been the source of artistic genius until the great plague in 1348.   Beccafumi was among the most accomplished in the school of Siena and his reputation was second only to il Sodoma.   The pavement of the cathedral of Siena is his most celebrated work:  white marble engraved with the outlines of the subject in black, and borders inlaid with richly colored patterns.   Yes, you have to see it to get the picture.

But somewhere he found time to portray Judith.  And similar to the unusual proportions of Botticelli (Judith makes an exit), Beccafumi portrays her with the little head of Holofernes. Is there some special meaning that I missed?

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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Whorey


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Judith and the Sodomite

Giovanni Antonio Bazzi had the nickname “Il Sodoma” because … well … he was accused of being a sodomite and it just stuck.   ahem.   actually, he was much disliked by Vasari, who claimed:

His manner of life was licentious and dishonourable, and as he always boys and beardless youths about him of whom he was inordinately fond, this earned him the nickname of Sodoma; but instead of feeling shame, he gloried in it, writing stanzas and verses on it, singing them to the accompaniment of the lute.(1)

but Bazzi himself used the name in his signature, and Vasari’s story has been questioned.   which makes Vasari look like an old priss.   but who knows since we did not have TMZ or National Enquirer or Perez Hilton at that time.

what is known is that il Sodoma was considered to be an exemplary artist of his day.   well-liked and admired by his contemporaries – Raphael, Peruzzi, Pacchia and Beccafumi – except Vasari.

and despite all the nasty gossip, his depiction Judith is very sweet.   just a simple maiden strolling through the countryside.   except for the big knife and the severed head – which is sort of … complicated and scary.

il Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi), "Judith," c.1510, Oil on wood, 84 x 47 cm, Pinacoteca, Siena, Italy

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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Distracted


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