BOOK OF JUDITH Remember the story? "Nebuchadnezzar" dispatched Holofernes to take vengeance on the nations of the west that had withheld their assistance to his reign. The general laid siege to Bethulia, and the city almost surrendered. It was saved by Judith, a beautiful Hebrew widow who entered Holofernes camp and seduced him. Judith then beheaded Holofernes while he was drunk. She returned to Bethulia with the disembodied head, and the Hebrews defeated the enemy.
BOOK OF JUDITH Judith is didactic fiction, complete with many historical inaccuracies, probably composed less than a century before Christs birth by an unknown author.
Judith and Holofernes (Judith 13,1-10)"Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretchedout on the bed, for he was overcome with wine (Judith 13,2)...She went up to the post at the end of the bed, aboveHolofernes head, and took down his sword that hung there.She came close to the bed and took hold of the hair of hishead, and said: "Give me strength this day, O Lord God ofIsrael!". And she struck his neck twice with all her might, andsevered his head from his body (Judith 13,6-8)... After amoment she went out and gave Holofernes head to her maid(Judith 13, 9)".The Old Testament narrates the episode of Judith who savedher city of Bethulia from the siege of Holofernes, general ofthe Assyrian king Nabucodonosor, by killing him after abanquet at which he had been made drink, beheading him andbringing his head to his fellow citizens (Judith ch. 10-13).
Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes• Painted six versions of the story• Gentileschi raped when young: is there a relationship of this event to the painting?• Artist identified with Judith, Gentileschi’s self-portrait as the heroine• Not idealized but realistic figures• Gory moment of decapitation, blood squirting out: shock value• Holofernes defenseless• Tenebroso• Dramatic light effect from the left