story of judith and holofernes story
Judith remained popular in the Baroque period, but around 1600, images of Judith began to take on a more violent character, “and Judith became a threatening character to artist and viewer.”  Italian painters including Caravaggio, Leonello Spada, and Bartolomeo Manfredi depicted Judith and Holofernes; and in the north, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Eglon van der Neer  used the story. The influential composition by Cristofano Allori (c. 1613 onwards), which exists in several versions, copied a conceit of Caravaggio’s recent David with the Head of Goliath: Holofernes’ head is a portrait of the artist, Judith is his ex-mistress, and the maid her mother.   In Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting Judith Slaying Holofernes (Naples), she demonstrates her knowledge of the Caravaggio Judith Slaying Holofernes of 1612; like Caravaggio, she chooses to show the actual moment of the killing.  A different composition in the Pitti Palace in Florence shows a more traditional scene with the head in a basket.
The Book of Judith was accepted by Jerome as canonical and accepted in the Vulgate and was referred to by Clement of Rome in the late first century (1 Clement 55), and thus images of Judith were as acceptable as those of other scriptural women. In early Christianity, however, images of Judith were far from sexual or violent: she was usually depicted as “a type of the praying Virgin or the church or as a figure who tramples Satan and harrows Hell,” that is, in a way that betrayed no sexual ambivalence: “the figure of Judith herself remained unmoved and unreal, separated from real sexual images and thus protected.” 
In his comparison between the Book of Judith and Assyrian history, Catholic priest and scholar Fulcran Vigouroux (1837–1915) attempts an identification of Nabuchodonosor king of Assyria with Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC) and his rival Arphaxad king of the Medes with Phraortes (665–653 BC), the son of Deioces, founder of Ecbatana. 
In medieval Christian art, the predominance of church patronage assured that Judith’s patristic valences as “Mulier Sancta” and Virgin Mary prototype would prevail: from the 8th-century frescoes in Santa Maria Antigua in Rome through innumerable later bible miniatures. Gothic cathedrals often featured Judith, most impressively in the series of 40 stained glass panels at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (1240s). [ citation needed ]
The book relates that Nebuchadrezzar, king of Assyria, sent his general Holofernes on an expedition against Palestine. At the siege of the Jewish city of Bethulia, a general named Achior warned Holofernes of the danger of attacking the Jews. A beautiful Jewish widow named Judith left the besieged city in pretended flight and foretold to Holofernes that he would be victorious. Invited into his tent, she cut off his head as he lay in drunken sleep and brought it in a bag to Bethulia. A Jewish victory over the leaderless Assyrian forces followed.
The work’s historicity is suspect because of numerous historical and chronological errors. Some scholars have suggested that the existence of similar accounts in the Bible (e.g., Jael in the Book of Judges) and in the interpretive stories of the Midrash point to an early, common source (perhaps from the 6th century bce ) now lost. Others, however, view the story as sheer fiction and attribute it to an anonymous Palestinian Jew who wrote shortly after the end of the Maccabean revolt (2nd century bce ). According to this view, Judith was meant to be the female counterpart of Judas Maccabeus, leader of the revolt, and the book, discussing a contemporary situation in the guise of an ancient historical setting, was written to encourage the Judaean Jews in the uneasy period of independence following the wars precipitated by the Maccabean uprising.
Let’s begin with the story of Judith and Holofernes, as seen in the work of Caravaggio (post December 17, 2015).
Who are they? And why does their encounter end in such a brutal way?
The Assyrians panic and flee the area. Judith returns to her city a true hero.
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4. Judith knows her power over men. Throughout the book, it seems Judith merely smiles and men collapse (Judith 10:7, 14, 19, 23). Wisely appealing to their senses of sight and smell, she mesmerizes them. Her weapons of warfare are sensual and material. She dresses carefully, knowing the success of her ruse and assassination plan depend upon her ability to entice. For her adventure, she removes her sackcloth and widow’s dress, bathes and richly perfumes herself, fixes her hair, selects a festival dress, and dons a tiara as her battle garb’s finishing touch (Judith 10:3). She accessorizes her outfit with rings, bracelets, anklets, earrings, other jewelry, and attractive sandals (Judith 10:4). In the intimate seduction banquet scene set in Holofernes’ tent, Judith simply reclines on lambskins, nibbles her food brought from Bethulia, and flatters the general by telling him “today is the greatest day of my whole life” (Judith 12:15–20). She presents such a pretty picture that gullible Holofernes, beset with lust, drinks himself into senseless, fatal oblivion (Judith 12:16, 20).