Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes and Joseph the Carpenter
Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (98) and Georges de La Tour’s Joseph the Carpenter (151) are great examples of Chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro meaning the representation of balance between light and shades within artwork. This type of artwork is typical of the renaissance era. There are several aspects of chiaroscuro; modeling which is light falling across a curved or round surface. Highlights which reflect the light is a direct way, and shadowing which is the darkness of a painting. Two more types that are represented by these artists is tenebrism (murky) and focal point (key focus).
Gentileschi is a second generation Italian artist who demonstrates tenebrism in the form of candlelight that is placed on a table. The heroic figure, Judith within the painting is blocking the light with her hand thusly casting a shadow onto her face. This illustration seems to project the intention that Judith is hiding from unforeseen dangers just out of sight. Gentileschi’s oil canvas creation is 72 ½ X 55 ¾ inches in size and is an “expressive media tool” (253) with the use of brilliant colors, detailing in the clothing, lighting, and shadowing. It is a great asset for the artist to paint with passion and imagination as well as realistic views.
Equally impressive is the creation of a focal point by La Tour, a French artist largely known for his usage of “candle lit subjects” (EB). In this case the candlelight is in the hands of the boy figure casting a shadow over Joseph the carpenter. The light “focal point” is on the boy’s face, representing the importance of the boy himself as being Christ. La Tour’s oil canvas 18 ½ X 25 ½ inches in size, somewhat smaller than Gentileschi’s piece; however the size does not imply that it is of less relevance. La Tour’s “geometric simplification” (EB) of the human form is in contrast to that of Gentileschi. This prospective...
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