Author: Artemisia Gentileshi
Painting: Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. 1625
About the painting
Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, circa 1625, is one of several paintings depicted by numerous authors about Judith, the fearless widow from The Book of Judith in the Old Testament. Artemisia Gentileschi herself painted four scenes of Judith’s story. Judith was an attractive Jewish princess, chosen by God, to save the Israelite town of Bethulia from an army siege commanded by Assyrian General Holofernes. Judith, accompanied by her maidservant, Ara, went to the campsite to find Holofernes and after using her seductive beauty, got him drunk and decapitated him with his own sword as he slept. Visibility in this painting is the spirit of the drama. The viewers are inescapably occupied in the action. The nervousness of the sight is contagious. The original work is located at The Detroit Institute of Art and measures 6’ ½” X 4’ 7 ¾”.
About the Artist
Artemisia Gentileshi, 1593-1654, was no ordinary girl for her times. Her father was a celebrated painter named Orazio Gentileshi, from whom she inherited her amazing talent for the arts. Most of Artemisia’s work was inspired by the endeavor of virtuous, martyrs, heroic and strong females from the mythology, classical literature and the bible. Being a victim herself of rape, her fondness of female dominance is remarkably present generally in her work.
About this analysis
Although the subject matter of this piece of art is somewhat macabre, the realism, since we can almost feel the fear of Judith and Ara of being discovered; plus the story behind the author and Judith, draw my interest and fascination to attempt this analysis of its visual elements and principles of design.
The Visual Elements and Principles of Design
The artist used efficiently, traditional actual lines to create a dramatic