- Author: Gustav Klimt
- Museum: Austrian Gallery, Vienna
- Year: 1901 ⇐ Click image for larger version
Description of the picture:
Judith and Holofernes head - Gustav Klimt. 1901. Oil on canvas. 84 x 42 centimeters
The biblical story about the beautiful Judah Judith seduced the Assyrian commander Holofernes and cut off his head - a popular story in painting from the times of the Middle Ages to the present day. Many artists interpreted this legendary motif in different ways, praising the heroism and sacrifice of a female patriot. Gustav Klimt remained true to himself and in this work: it is distinguished by its special beauty, attractiveness of the female image and high decorativeness.
Despite the antiquity of the plot, the artist gives him many modern features. His Judith is a woman of the beginning of the 20th century, with clean and expressive features and a recognizable hairstyle characteristic of this time. It is captured at the moment when the invaders come out of the tent, holding Holofernes's severed head. Her face expresses a whole gamut of emotions - on it you can read pride, turmoil, relief, joy, and even regret. Judith's eyes are closed, her mouth is half-open, baring luxurious white teeth. This woman has just committed murder and at the same time an act of retribution, so she is overwhelmed by mixed feelings.
The modernity of the canvas is underlined by its sophisticated sexuality. Judith was barely covered by the thinnest transparent fabric of light attire embroidered with a gold thread. Her delicate little breast of beautiful shape is naked, emphasizing the young age of this incredible woman. The long thin neck is adorned with a high gold collar necklace that visually separates Judith's head from her luxurious white body. Thus, the artist seems to tell us that, by chopping off Holoferne’s head, Judith herself also loses her life.
The rich golden background of the canvas symbolizes the expensive fabrics of the tent of the Assyrian commander, perfectly harmonizing with the overall black and gold gamut of the picture. Thanks to its luminous gold finish and the background, Judith’s image looks illuminated by an unearthly glow.
Other pictures of Gustav Klimt
Portrait of Friderika Maria Beer
Portrait of Margaret Stoneboro-Wittgenstein
Three age women
Portrait of Serena Lederer
Joseph Lewinsky as Don Carlos
Unterach, manor on the lake Attersee
Death and life
Portrait of Sonny Knips
Tree of life
Watch the video: Expressionist Artists in Vienna : Gustav Klimt's "Judith I" (November 2019).