Great Works: Judith beheading Holofernes (1612-13), Artemisia Gentileschi – The Independent

1612This is an article I discovered when researching the differences between the 1612 and 1620 portray of Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi.

The author starts with the mention of the slasher genre of paintings which involve extensive violence and cutting and the fact that Christian art plays a large part in this ‘style’  and the 17th century was certainly known for it.  The story of Judith and Holofernes is a Biblical story with Judith being a Jewish woman, the other woman is her made Abra and the man is the Assyrian general Holofernes – the story is that Judith saves her people by killing Holofernes.

The author takes a slightly different angle, to any I have previously read, to the killing of Holofernes in that it is mentioned that Judith is clearly finding it difficult physically to do the deed and also the fact that it is very much business rather than a heroic deed.

This is a short article touching on the painting but I am interested in the angle the author takes and it is worth consideration particularly bearing in mind the author also mentions Artemisia’s life and her trial and the fact she painted strong and suffering women from the Bible – the article intimates the possibility of a biographical aspect to her art in the fact that it may have been the inspiration.


Lubock, T. 22 October 2009.  Great Works:  Judith beheading Holofernes(1612-13), Artemisia Gentileschi [online].  [Date Accessed:  November 2016].  Available from:

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