Woman In Art Final
Analysis of Judith Slaying Holofernes by Elisabetta Sirani.
A Depiction of Strength and Moral Triumph
Judith with the head of Holofernes represents that classical good versus evil archetype. Judith represents the virtues of chastity, bravery and self-sacrifice. This image relates to the feminine archetype through its associations with motherhood as well as seduction. This expands the traditional role of females, showing heroism is possible. This painting’s composition is one of solid foundations, as well as light and dark contrast, emphasizing the key components.
As the story goes, the Assyrian General Holofernes sought to conquer the town of Bethulia on his way to Jerusalem. However, Judith using wine and food lowered his defenses. As he began to desire her sexually, the two retired to his chambers. But overcome with alcohol, he fell asleep, and she had then decapitated him with his own sword. The act of Judith slaying Holofernes, both reinforces and expands the traditional roll of woman.
The female, through motherhood, has always been seen as the retainer of moral standards. A traditional woman’s job in the household, through raising children is to teach the virtues of society. In the story this painting represents, she manipulates the evil Assyrian General through his desire for sin. Overindulgence, called gluttony, is a sin. By providing him with wine and food that dulled his senses, she showed the hazard of gluttony. By making him desire her sexually, she showed the virtue of chastity. She demonstrated the value of having moral standards by using sin against the General. The triumph of good over evil is exemplified in the appearance of Holofernes severed head and the face of Judith. His head appears worn, haggard. His hair is out of place, and even looks unclean. The eyes are closed and looking downward everything speaks of defeat. His face is only half seen in light, as if he was trying to...
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