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Related: femme fatale - decapitation
Then she [Judith] struck his [Holofernes] neck twice with all her might, and cut off his head --Book of Judith
Judith I, 1901 - Gustav Klimt [Oil on canvas with gold plating. 84 x 42 cm. Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.]
At the time of its creation, Klimt's painting Judith I, 1901 , was considered the incarnation of the femme fatale.
PlotThe subject: a daring and beautiful woman in her full maturity, dressed as for the feast with all her spectacular jewels, accompanied by an apprehensive maid, succeeds in decapitating the invading general, Holofernes. The moral is as much about the dangers of a beautiful woman, as had been told of Dalilah and Samson, but here the woman was a culture-hero to the listeners. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Judith [Sept 2004]
JudithIn the Old Testament, Judith is a devout widow who captivated with her beauty the attention of the Assyrian leader who was a deadly menace to her people. At the meal in her honor he drank so much wine that he fell asleep before he could touch her. In his sleep, Judith killed him with his own sword, escaped with the help of a maid and helped the Israelites defeat the Assyrians who were now without a leader. In the Christian tradition, Judith was the allegory of the victory of chastity over vice and of humility over arrogance. At the beginning of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, she became the symbol of freedom, justice and just beliefs. In 1840, German poet Friedrich Hebbel reinterpreted the myth: Judith was still a widow, but a virgin because her husband had been impotent. Sexually frustrated, she was attracted by the Assyrian Holofernes and killed him as a personal vengence. In Sigmund Freud's interpretation of 1917, Judith agreed with Hebbel: Judith killed the Assyrian because he had taken her virginity. Cutting of his head was, according to Freud, a symbol for Holofernes' castration. According to Daniela Hammer - the information on Judith comes from her catalogue essay - Klimt's portrait falls in the same category: She is a strong and independent woman who challenges male dominance, the femme fatale symbolizes an eternal truth. Despite the fact that Klimt wrote "Judith und Holofernes" on the portrait's frame, in 1905, at a Berlin exhibition, the painting was considered to represent Salome. To mix up such contrary figures like Judith and Salome has a long tradition in art history which dates back to the 16th century. Salome was responsible for the killing of St. John the Baptist. For the artists of the turn of the century, Salome and not Judith was the incarnation of the femme fatale. Gustave Moreau's painting inspired Oscar Wilde to his dramatic ballad of 1893. Judith's "subversive ambivalence" of the Renaissance in Klimt's painting largely gave way to a sensual and erotic optic: Judith is an icon of femininity. Whatever interpretation you prefer, one fact remains: Judith I of 1901 is not only one of Gustav Klimt's best paintings, it is one of the outstanding female portraits in art history. --Copyright 2000 www.cosmopolis.ch Louis Gerber .
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 - 1652/1653), daughter of well-known Roman artist, Orazio Gentileschi (1563 - 1639), was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art. In an era when female artists were limited to portrait painting and imitative poses, she was the first woman to paint major historical and religious scenarios.
Born in Rome in 1593, she received her early training from her father, but after art academies rejected her, she continued study under a friend of her father, Agostino Tassi.
In 1612, her father brought suit against Tassi for raping Artemisia. There followed a highly publicised seven-month trial. This event makes up the central theme of a controversial French film, Artemisia (1998), directed by Agnes Merlet.
The trauma of the rape and trial impacted Artemisia's painting. Her graphic depictions were cathartic and symbolic attempts to deal with the physical and psychic pain. --http://members.ozemail.com.au/%7Edrbrash/artemisia/index.html [May 2004]
Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1598) - Caravaggio (1573-1610)
Judith (1540) - Jan Sanders van Hemessen
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