This is one of the great works of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1654), the great painter of the Baroque,whose name is really not overly well known. Although in her time it achieved quite a bit of prestige.
This is a canvas painted in oil around 1620 and is currently exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery, curiously very close to several paintings byCaravaggio, to which he is sometimes compared, given the tremendous influence of this artist on his works. Interestingly, Caravaggio also made a painting with the same theme.
Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi
This one fromJudith beheading Holofernes could be a good example of how she worked with chiaroscuro and realism following Caravaggio trends. A work with a rather gruesome theme and a load of brutality that the painter left very clear. So much so that when he delivered the work to Cosimo II de Medicis who had commissioned it, he had the painting hung in a not-frequented room of the Palacio Pitti , and it is even said that he did not pay her, and that the painter did not collect it until the death of Cosimo II and thanks to the intervention on her behalf of Galileo Galilei, with whom he was united by a sincere friendship.
The scene representsthe triumph of the biblical heroine Judith. A character who had to save his people from the Assyrians, commanded by Holofernes. To do this, Judith, a virtuous and chaste woman, was able to cajole her enemy and finally cut her throat, in a way as brutal as the one we see in the picture.
A most explicit scene like many others painted by Artemisia Gentileschi, since she herself noticed these types of strong women, because the artist herself suffered rape young man in charge of his tutor, the landscaper Agostino Tassi, and that fact obviously marked him for the rest of his life.
And obviously a woman like Judith attracted him enormously because she had been capable of exercising violence on her enemy. So much so, that another canvas depictingJudith and her maid.
There are even critics who speculate that the painter made a self-portrait when making her protagonist's face, and of course, Holofernes's face would resemble Tassi's.
That episode of the rape marked her not only psychologically, but also socially, since she had to undergo a truly humiliating trial, despite the fact that the aggressor's guilt was proven. However, she was a very strong woman, able to fight and rise to great success in life and working for great Italian and English patrons. Although, just by saying that she managed to live comfortably from her art, it would already beadmire, because that was not easy for women.