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Judith and Holofernes

Judith and Holofernes

Material : Fresco
Item 14 on 28
Indoor Architecture

Vitrine : 3

Area related
Le Vatican (Le Vatican)


"Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretched out on the bed, for he was overcome with wine (Judith 13,2)... She went up to the post at the end of the bed, above Holofernes' head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to the bed and took hold of the hair of his head, and said: "Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!". And she struck his neck twice with all her might, and severed his head from his body (Judith 13,6-8)... After a moment she went out and gave Holofernes' head to her maid (Judith 13, 9)".

The Old Testament narrates the episode of Judith who saved her city of Bethulia from the siege of Holofernes, general of the Assyrian king Nabucodonosor, by killing him after a banquet at which he had been made drink, beheading him and bringing his head to his fellow citizens (Judith ch. 10-13). The episode is illustrated in three scenes. On the left are the sleeping guards, in the centre Judith and her handmaid covering the head of the murdered Holofernes, (presumed to be a portrait of Michelangelo) with a cloth and, lastly, on the right we see the body of the mutilated Holofernes.

The large spandrels placed in the corners of the ceiling narrate four episodes of the miraculous salvation of the people of Israel. These should be interpreted as prefigurations of the Messiah, because they testify as to the constant presence of God in the life of his people and the continuous renewal of the promise of Redemption. They are therefore junction points between the stories of the ceiling and those of the walls.

Item(s) related   
Art Institute of Chicago :
European 1500s
Thème biblique
Jan Sanders van Hemessen
near 1540

Louvre Museum :
Pays-Bas - XVIème siècle
Judith tenant la tête d'Holopherne
Thème biblique
Jan Metsys
Sizes : 106 cm x 75 cm
approx. from 1545 to 1550
Petite galerie de l'Académie
Judith tenant la tête d'Holopherne
Sizes : 91 cm x 54 cm x 36 cm
approx. from 1738 to 1741
Judith et Holopherne
Pion de tric-trac
XIInd century

Metropolitan Museum of Art :
Carracci, Reni, Guercino
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Thème biblique
Massimo Stanzione
near 1640
Cranach, Dürer, Holbein
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Thème biblique
Lucas Cranach
Rubens, van Dyck
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Thème biblique
David Teniers
approx. from 1650 to 1659

Old Pinakothek of Munich :
Peinture italienne
Thème biblique
Simon Vouet
Renaissance italienne
Judith tenant la tête d'Holopherne
Judith mit dem Haupte des Holofernes
Thème biblique
La "Haute Renaissance"
Girolamo Sellari
approx. from 1540 to 1550

Sainte-Chapelle :
Chapelle haute
Vitrail de Judith et Job
Thème biblique

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor :
Nothern Renaissance Painting
Portrait of a Lady of the Saxon Court, as Judith with the head of Holofernes
Hans Cranach
near 1537

Uffizi Gallery :
Antonio del Pollaiolo
The Return of Judith
Thème biblique
Alessandro di Mariano dei Filipepi
Sizes : 31 cm x 24 cm
approx. from 1445 to 1510
Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo
Thème biblique
Jacopo Negretti
Sizes : 90 cm x 71 cm
from 1525 to 1528
Related article(s)   

Judith and Holofernes
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Michel-Ange)