Wednesday, October 13, 2010

age old art history topic of discussion; judith and holofernes

Caravaggio - Judith and Holofernes, 1599

Gentileschi - Judith Slaying Holofernes, c. 1612

Art history class, question of the day - Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? (article by Linda Nochlin, 1971).

Why, social conventions, to put it simply (she takes about thirty pages to explain this, of course).

But this leads to the curious case of Artemisia Gentileschi, the female painter and her life story, her rape and trial, her paintings...

And why she is/was underrated/forgotten.  Certainly not technical skill, I'm sure.  Perhaps her work doesn't have the same effect as Caravaggio's (and Caravaggio was sadly misunderstood in his time), but it is certainly striking.  Like the expression on Judith's face, and the action involved in the painting.  Pent-up rage.  And a hand pushing down on his head.  Rather than squeamish disgust.  And a creepy old lady in the background.

But I'm probably overspeculating.

On another vaguely related topic, I came across two more depictions of Judith and Holofernes - by Gustav Klimt.  A fascinating artist and interesting interpretation.

Klimt - Judith and Holofernes, 1901-2

Klimt - Judith, 1909


  1. I do not care for Klimt, and would not pay a penny for a piece of his work .... but, thank you, Kat, for introducing me to an artist (Artemisia Gentileschi) whose work I was unaware of and whose style is the sort I love.

    Life is learning ....

  2. thanks for the comment! of all the Caravaggisti, Gentileschi is probably one of my favorites :)