31. the baroque painting judith and maidservant with the head of holofernes depicts what story
The 2001 exhibition catalogue on Artemisia Gentileschi and her father Orazio remarked that “the painting is generally recognized as Artemisia’s finest work”.  . Others have concurred, and the art historian Letizia Treves concluded that with this painting “Artemisia rightly takes her place among the leading artists of the Italian Baroque.” 
Judith and Her Maidservant is one of four paintings by the Italian baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi that depicts the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes.  This particular work, executed in about 1623 to 1625, now hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts.  The narrative is taken from the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, in which Judith seduces and then murders the general Holofernes. This precise moment illustrates the maidservant Abra wrapping the severed head in a bag, moments after the murder, while Judith keeps watch. The other three paintings are now shown in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and the Musee de la Castre, Cannes. 
Many different artists have portrayed the biblical heroine Judith. Because of the popularity of seeing a woman overpower a man in Baroque art, Judith became a popular biblical subject for artists to draw. Artists made different stylistic choices when depicting Judith depending on the trends of the time period.
Judith Slaying Holofernes has been considered to be related to the Power of Woman theme. Historian Susan L. Smith defines the “power of woman” as “the representational practice of bringing together at least two, but usually more, well-known figures from the Bible, ancient history or romance to exemplify a cluster of interrelated themes that include the wiles of woman, the power of love and the trials of marriage.  Gentileschi plays into the “wiles of woman” in her painting by literally portraying Judith at the man point of her domination of over a man. Judith is shown as a beautiful woman which enticed Holofernes and also as a fierce heroine.
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And what a brutally damaged life it was. In the wild art world of Caravaggio’s Rome, artists were rich, arrogant and could do almost anything they liked so long as they stayed in the pope’s good books. Gentileschi must have met Caravaggio many times as a child: perhaps he even encouraged her to paint. Her father, Orazio, also a talented artist, was Caravaggio’s close friend. In 1603, Orazio and Caravaggio were up in court together after they scrawled libels about some enemy artist in the streets of Rome. In his evidence, Orazio casually mentioned Caravaggio coming round to his house to borrow a pair of angel wings.
Artemisia Gentileschi turned the horrors of her own life – repression, injustice, rape – into brutal biblical paintings that were also a war cry for oppressed women. Why has her extraordinary genius been overlooked?
23 Mary D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), p. 324.
14 Held too close to the multi-layered headpiece covering her hair in the style of a modest matron, the curve of her scimitar draws attention to the embroidered trim on her headband and ”bonnet,”11 which were made of sackcloth. This curve is counterbalanced by the curve on her neckline as it draws our eye to what appears to be either richly embossed trim or an elaborate necklace. Above these two curves of headpiece and neckline, Judith’s upraised right hand and wrist hover, so that I note the continuation of the trim from her neckline, in the form of a cuff bracelet, onto her wrist (Fig. 18.1). Careful inspection of the detailed images on Judith’s headpiece, right wrist, and neckline confirm that these are neither simple ”trim” nor jewelry. Rather, comparing these costuming highlights with other sculptures of Donatello, the visual quotations are recognizable as being both classical in nature and following the traditional patterns of the armor worn by members and soldiers of the Medici family. Judith’s heavy ”neckpiece” can be read as quotation of the cuirass from the Athena Armed as Athena Parthenos (Fig. 18.2), and her bracelet as the piece of armor known as a vambrace. Both incorporate images of chariots and putti with weapons, flowers, or fruit, thereby referencing the classical mythology of the warrior hero. Further, the arrangement of the winged putti holding the empty disk in the center of Judith’s cuirass can be read as a visual quotation from the classical and early Christian sarcophagi on which winged genii held a medallion with a portrait of the deceased.12