which is not true about gentileschis judith slaying holofernes
She also painted a later version of the work somewhere between 1613 and 1621, now in the Uffizi in Florence.   
The Renaissance had a long-standing history of portraying Judith.  Many artists believed that the heroine Judith held many different qualities like chastity and humility.  Lucas Cranach the Elder painted a very straightforward version of Judith now known as Judith with the Head of Holofernes.  Cranach’s Judith is shown with a resolved look on face as she holds a sword in her hand. She wears an ornate green dress and the viewer can only see up to her mid-thigh region. Her body is cut off due to a marble ledge were the head of Holofernes sits. There is no gushing blood and Judith seems to have made a clean cut through Holofernes head. The phlegmatic look on Judith’s face reverberate the intensity of her beheading.  Gentileschi captures the emotions of Judith’s face but maintains more medical accuracy with the blood that is spilling down the bed. Genitleschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes shows Judith in the act of beheading rather than showing her with the head of Holofernes as Cranach did.  Donatello also contributed his own interpretation with his sculpture known as Judith and Holofernes. In this sculpture, Judith is seen towering over Holofernes with a sword over her head. Holofernes body slumps over and his head is still attached to his body. Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes sought to symbolize the theme of pride in both Holofernes and offer as a cautionary tale to the Medici family.  Writer Roger J. Crum notes that “Judith’s gesture, pulling back the general’s head, rendures sure her next blow, it also makes the neck all the more visible. Behold the neck of pride,” commanded the inscription, and Donatello’s treatment facilitated compliance”.  Unlike Donatello’s sculpture, Gentileschi shows Judith triumphing over Holofernes in the climatic moment of the beheading. Gentileschi also choose to show Judith without a head covering and includes Judith’s maidservant.
Judith Beheading Holofernes – also called Judith Slaying Holofernes – is based on the Old Testament story contained in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, which details the assassination of the Assyrian general Holofernes by the Israelite Judith, a traditional example of virtue and chastity. In the story, Holofernes is about to destroy Judith’s home city of Bethulia, but she uses her beauty to gain access to the general’s tent, and decapitates him after getting him helplessly drunk. The painting depicts the moment that Holfernes wakes from his stupor, just as Judith, aided by Abra her maidservant, is trying to behead him. It was a popular story often used by Italian Baroque artists to show women triumphing over tyrannical men. Gentileschi used herself as the model for Judith, and Tassi as the model for Holofernes.
For analysis and explanation of other important pictures from the Renaissance, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed (1250-1800).
‘“Who? Signor Galilei? No, he knows nothing of painting. He’s the court mathematician. His head buzzes with only stars and numbers.’”
Signor Galilei? You mean, Galileo Galilei? This was one of the most striking lines in Susan Vreeland’s The Passion of Artemisia, a work of historical fiction about the life of one of the greatest painters of the Baroque era, Artemisia Gentileschi.
This post was originally published on October 27, 2014.
These two representations of the story are remarkably similar, but the differences stand out. One of my all-time favorite art lessons is to have students compare and contrast these two Judith and Holofernes paintings. It’s a great lesson in looking closely. The longer you can keep a student looking and thinking, the more they will get out of it. Have your students notice the similarities and differences between the colors, lighting, postures, and expressions of the people, actions, lines, and emotions. There’s plenty to keep students exploring and engaged.
“Paintings of what you can’t see, what you can’t hear, abound in 17th-century art,” says Keith Christiansen, curator of Italian paintings at the Met and cocurator of the exhibition. In a painting of the same theme done 20 years earlier, Orazio took a different tack. In his version, the women also look offstage, but their body language is more stylized. The folds of their dresses match, as do their profiles, as if the two assassins are in a dance. “Artemisia often takes the George Lucas route, aiming for theatrical effect,” says Christiansen. “She wants you to be thoroughly repulsed. Orazio communicates this psychological moment in a formal way, making even the ugly head beautiful. He favors fabric; she favors blood. He’s the soft shoe to her stiletto.”
At the time, rape was viewed more as a crime against a family’s honor than as a violation of a woman. Thus, only when the married Tassi reneged on his promise to marry Artemisia did Orazio bring charges against him. In the ensuing eight-month trial, Artemisia testified that she was painting when Tassi came into the room shouting, “Not so much painting, not so much painting.” He then grabbed the palette and brushes from her hands and threw them to the floor. She fought and scratched to no avail, finally attacking him with a knife. To establish her truthfulness, authorities administered a primitive lie detector test—in the form of torture by thumbscrews, a common practice at the time. As the cords were tightened around her fingers, she was said to have cried out to Tassi, “This is the ring you give me, and these are your promises.”