gustav klimt judith and the head of holofernes price
Judith I shares elements of its composition and symbolism with The Sin by Franz Stuck:  the temptation illustrated by the German painter becomes the model for Klimt’s femme fatale by suggesting the posture of the disrobed and evanescent body as focal piece of the canvas, as well as the facial set. Judith’s force originates from the close-up and the solidity of posture, rendered by the orthogonal projection of lines: to the body’s verticality (and that of Holofernes’) corresponds the horizontal parallels in the lower margin: those of the arm, the shoulders joined by the collier, and finally the hair base.  Judith was the biblical heroine who seduced and then decapitated General Holofernes in order to save her home city of Bethulia from destruction by the Assyrian army.
Judith’s face exudes a mixed charge of voluptuousness and perversion. Its traits are transfigured so as to obtain the greatest degree of intensity and seduction, which Klimt achieves by placing the woman on an unattainable plane. Notwithstanding the alteration of features, one can recognise Klimt’s friend (and, possibly, lover), Viennese socialite, Adele Bloch-Bauer, the subject of another two portraits respectively done in 1907 and 1912, and also painted in the Pallas Athena.  The slightly lifted head has a sense of pride, whereas her visage is languid and sensual, with parted lips in between defiance and seduction. Franz A. J. Szabo describes it best as a “[symbol of] triumph of the erotic feminine principle over the aggressive masculine one”. Her half-closed gaze, which also ties into an expression of pleasure, directly confronts the viewer of all this. In 1903, author and critic Felix Salten describes Judith’s expression as one “with a sultry fire in her dark glances, cruelty in the lines of her mouth, and nostrils trembling with passion. Mysterious forces seem to be slumbering within this enticing female”. Although Judith had typically been interpreted as the pious widow simply fulfilling a higher duty, in Judith I she is a paradigm of the femme fatale Klimt repeatedly portrayed in his work. The contrast between the black hair and the golden luminosity of the background enhance elegance and exaltation. The fashionable hairdo is emphasized by the stylised motifs of the trees fanning on the sides.  Her disheveled dark green, semi-sheer garment, giving the viewer a view of nearly bare torso, alludes to the fact that Judith beguiled the general Holofernes before decapitating him.
Judith was the biblical heroine who seduced and then decapitated General Holofernes in order to save her home city of Bethulia from destruction by the enemy, the Assyrian army. The subject was quite popular from the Middle Ages onwards, as an example of virtue overcoming vice. However, this work is not timeless allegory, since Judith and the Head of Holoferness depicted as a Viennese society beauty. The model was Adele Bloch-Bauer and if we compare it with her portrait it is easy tosee the facial similarity. There seem to have been two principal Klimt types. The first was this dark-haired woman of angular build, also seen in Judith and the Head of HolofernesI. The other favorite was the fleshy, Rubenesque beauty portrayed in Danae. Judith’s sensuality and her orgasmic expression as she hholds up the head of Holofernes shocked Vienna. the Viennese could not bring themselves to see this brazen femme fatale, who is clearly taking pleasure in her actions, as the pious Jewish widow how risked her virtue in order to save her city. A far more acceptable solution was to insist that this was a picture of the murderess Salome, despite its being titled on the frame, and for a long time the painting was erroneously known as ‘Salome’.
Judith herself has in a sense been decapitated. The heavy gold choker she wears, fashionable in early twentieth-century Vienna, rather brutally separates her own head from her body. Her clothes half conceal, half reveal her body. The stylized gold band at te bottom of the picture looks as if it might be an ornamental hem to her garment, but then cuts across her abdomen like a flat belt. The painting was bought almost immediately by Klimt’s Swiss contemporary, the painter Ferdinand Hodler (1853 – 1918), whose work Klimt much admired.
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The model for the painting was Adele Bloch-Bauer who also posed for Klimt as the Woman in Gold.
The theme of Judith and Holofernes inspired hundreds of works of art. Klimt’s version is probably the only version that does not depict any blood, sword or heroism that was commonly a theme in other versions.
The painting is considered as the beginning of Gustav Klimt’s golden period when he used gold prominently in his paintings.