judith and the maidservant with the head of holofernes is from what story
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Critics attribute the graphic power plays of Gentileschi’s greatest works, including Judith Beheading Holofernes and Jael and Sisera, to a long and painful rape trial that plagued her teenage years. Agostino Tassi, a peer of her father’s, had raped the young artist, then promised her marriage to save her endangered reputation. Tassi was no stranger to deception, having changed his name and birthplace to feign nobility. Obsessed by grandeur, Tassi also falsified his own adoption by a marquess. He was a serial rapist, his victims including his own sister-in-law, and was said to have contracted bandits to assassinate his wife, who had gone inexplicably MIA.
The notion of Judith’s attempt at seducing Holofernes was not something the early Christian Church deemed appropriate. Religious interpretations instead relayed that God enhanced her beauty without interfering with her innocence as a woman, which led to the increased imagery that connected her to the Virgin Mary.  In the Middle Ages, Judith was often cast in the same light as the Virgin, comparing their similar triumphs of beheading characters that represented evil—Holofernes and the devil, respectively.  Steering away from an all-encompassing approach to story-telling, Renaissance art marked the beginning of focusing entirely on the suspenseful moments of Judith’s tale, particularly when Holofernes is beheaded.  A prime example of this is Michelangelo’s pendentive of Judith in the Sistine Chapel.  Mythological symbols have been implemented in the decoration of Judith’s armor, referencing the female war/hunting figures of Artemis, Athena and the Amazons. Donatello is most well-known for this application, but the tradition is connected to other artists, like Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Andrea Mantegna, Giorgio Vasari, Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi.  It is speculated by art historian Mary Garrard that Judith served as a righteous symbol from which people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries looked to in religious and political situations. During the Counter-Reformation, Catholics saw Judith’s conquest of Holofernes as their battle and victory over Protestantism, specifically Truth over Heresy. 
Much like her father, Gentileschi’s style in the formative years of her career followed that of Caravaggio, mirroring his methods of dark shadows and overall execution.  The artist utilized dramatic forms of chiaroscuro, most notably across Judith’s half-lit face, her hand shielding the glow of the candle. Jesse M. Locker expresses this particular painting’s definitive qualities that quintessentially represent the dramatization within baroque art.  Vivid tones of color, ranging from Judith’s golden dress to the deep crimson curtain, contribute to an elemental component that is unique to Gentileschi’s style, unlike Caravaggio.  The shadow cast on Judith’s face resembles a crescent moon which is a symbol of Artemis, a reoccurring connection the artist made between the female figures.  Artemisia’s Judith is always seen with a weapon at the ready.  Gentileschi painted the figures and components of the composition with a strong sense of realism. Art historian Mary Garrard attributes this detailed attention to the influence of the Caravaggesque style. The dramatic lighting, playing with the limited glow from the candle and dense shadows, builds tension in the scene.  The style of this composition is compared to Adam Elsheimer’s Judith Slaying Holofernes, with the tenebristic lighting from the single candle and the drapery at the top corner of the canvas.  The dramatically shadowed crossing of Judith’s arms connects to the manner and style of Simon Vouet’s Temptation of St. Francis, along with the theme of sexual power.  There is still much debate over the specific date in which this painting was created, however most scholars secure it within the mid-1620’s. 
(Michelangelo Merisi da) Caravaggio (1571–1610)
He is believed to have used a Roman courtesan, Fillide Melandroni, as the model, and to have recalled what he saw at the public execution of Beatrice Cenci earlier.
Artemisia Gentileschi, “Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes”
In this painting, we really feel the action after the violence. In one of her other paintings, Gentileschi painted the actual moment of the beheading in all its bloody glory. Here she painted the aftermath, the escape complete with the separated head of Holofernes. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Gentileschi composed a scene not of triumph, or even detachment, rather it is one of suspense. These two women have finished the first part of their plan, and now they need to get away with it.
Pictures have the same possibility. A picture has a point of view from which its scene is shown. And it can suggest that this point of view is occupied, that it’s the viewpoint of a particular person or group of people. For example, in Ecce Homo pictures, where Jesus is presented to the crowd for judgement, the figure of Jesus may be faced straight to the picture’s front. The picture is a subjective shot. It’s seen from the viewpoint of the hostile crowd, who are about to cry ‘Crucify him!’ ” which puts the pious Christian viewer of the picture in a difficult double bind.
It’s a scene from many films. A character is in danger ” in danger of being detected or captured or killed. Some other character is out to get them. The potential victim may not know that they’re under this threat, but we know it, and we expect that the menace will strike at any moment. And so when we see the vulnerable character performing some innocent business, washing up, locking up, whatever, something about the camera angle may suggest this shot isn’t just a bit of narrative. (Maybe the character is viewed through a lighted window, from the darkness outside their house.) No, we suspect that in this shot we’re seeing them through their predator’s eyes. The danger is already at hand!