Judith represents the virtues of chastity, bravery and self-sacrifice. This image relates to the feminine archetype through its associations with motherhood as well as seduction. This expands the traditional role of females, showing heroism is possible. This painting’s composition is one of solid foundations, as well as light and dark contrast, emphasizing the key components.
As the story goes, the Assyrian General Holystones sought to conquer the town of Bathetic on his way thesauruses. However, Judith using wine and food lowered his defenses. As he began to desire her sexually, the two retired to his chambers. But overcome with alcohol, he fell asleep, and she had then decapitated him with his own sword. The act of Judith slaying Holystones, both reinforces and expands the traditional roll of woman. The female, through motherhood, has always been seen as the retainer of moral standards. A traditional woman’s job in the household, through raising children is to each the virtues of society.
In the story this painting represents, she manipulates the evil Assyrian General through his desire for sin. Overindulgence, called gluttony, is a sin. By providing him with wine and food that dulled his senses, she showed the hazard of gluttony. By making him desire her sexually, she showed the virtue of chastity. She demonstrated the value of having moral standards by using sin against the General. The triumph of good over evil Is exemplified In the appearance of Holystones severed head and the face of Judith. His head appears worn, haggard. His hair Is out of place, and even looks unclean.
The eyes are closed and looking downward everything speaks of defeat. HIS face Is only half seen In light, as If he was trying to hide his shame like somebody shying away from public view. She however is depicted as beautiful. The light is directly on her, and she appears serene, as if she had expected victory. This painting expands the roll of woman by showing she is capable of heroism. As traditionally woman is seen as passive, she took an active role in the pursuit of saving her village against the onslaught. This painting depicts the moment that she resents the head to the town’s people.
She is high on a stage; put in a place of admiration. The positioning of her feet emulates the classic contrasts pose. Making her even more Romanesque are her boots which Imitate that of a legionnaire. These two references to antiquity show a connection to the past. The richness of her clothing makes her appear glamorous. Further lending glamour and glory Is her Jewelry. Her turbine Is ornamented with Jewels. Metal fasteners are on her sleeves, as well as a Medusa Head brooch is on her chest. She is wearing a luxurious is in fact a sexual being.
But this sexuality that exists is chaste, reserved, present but not readily available. Her maid Barb, kneels to allow Judith to open the bloody satchel. Bra’s exposed arm is masculine with a muscular appearance. Her face has some detail, as well as her clothes, but she is only a shadow compared to Judith. The act of Barb kneeling gives Judith more power. People kneel to pray, the positioning of Barb makes Judith Saint like. Two boyish figures, with angelic faces, carrying torches surround her. The vertical line created by the boy on the right, and the angled torch f the boy on the left serve to frame her further.
The youth of these two figures further emphasizes the female role of motherhood. These two boys, in combination with the kneeling servant, and the admiration of the town show that she presents an example to be followed. The composition of the painting gives it depth, and further emphasizes her triumph. The stage the four figures stand upon bring them away from the background. The people behind the stage look upward in admiration. Some of these people are wearing helmets, symbolic of the fact that these people were willing to eight, but spared the burden of war through Jujitsu’s actions.
The background has far less detail then the four central figures, thus drawing the eye forward. The night sky changes the painting in two ways. The darkness of the sky frames the brighter foreground. Also the act of this moment happening at night creates a more dramatic atmosphere, almost theatre like. The crescent shape of the moon is indicative of two things. The angle that the crescent appears changes with a viewer’s position on the Earth. This is a location close to the equator. The illuminated part of the moon is just starting to grow shows that it is a new month, and is a new beginning in the Jewish calendar.
The walls in the background are fortress like. Their square shape shows sturdiness. This symbolically alludes not Just to her character but that of the whole community. Walls say you are a permanent fixture, willing to defend yourself, likely because you have cultivated the land or have otherwise invested time and energy into that location. The stationary nature of the Israelite town, versus the traveling Army further emphasizes good versus evil. Good people work from the land, evil people travel and plunder.
Judith is the main central figure, but everything in this painting frames her, and shows the virtues of the town and her. This painting is an extension of the original story. The town is threatened with invasion, but through one virtuosic woman using sin against the invaders, the town is saved. Her depiction shows a maternal nature, which is also beautiful and capable of charm. Woman has traditionally been the retainers of morality, but this image shows the capacity for triumph in the face of difficult odds. The artist designed this painting to further tell the original bible story in a more dramatic means.