Judith and her maidservant (c. 1612-1613) by Artemisia Gentileschi

Judith and her maidservant - Artemisia Gentileschi - 1613 - 1614

Artwork Information

TitleJudith and her maidservant
ArtistArtemisia Gentileschi
Date1613 - 1614
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions114 x 93.5 cm
Art MovementTenebrism
Current LocationPalazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy

About Judith and her maidservant

The artwork “Judith and her maidservant” is a captivating oil on canvas painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, created between 1613 and 1614. This piece embodies the Tenebrism art movement and falls within the genre of religious painting. Measuring 114 by 93.5 cm, the artwork is currently housed in the Palazzo Pitti, located in Florence, Italy. It is noteworthy not only for its technical brilliance but also for the profound narrative it portrays, which is deeply embedded in historical and artistic context.

The artwork vividly depicts the biblical story of Judith, a young widow who saves her people by seducing and subsequently beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes. Judith is shown in the painting holding the severed head of Holofernes in a basket which she grasps with her left hand, while her right hand clutches the hilt of a sword, indicating her active role in the gruesome act. Her facial expression is resolute yet calm, and she seems to be on the alert for any danger as she looks over her shoulder. Beside her, her maidservant appears attentive and focused, supporting Judith in her daring endeavor.

The use of light and shadow is striking, consistent with the Tenebrism technique, where dramatic chiaroscuro accentuates the main figures, creating a stark contrast with the dark background. The detailed portrayal of textures and fabrics, as well as the careful attention to physical expressions and emotional intricacies, make this artwork a masterful representation of a pivotal moment of strength and determination, highlighting Gentileschi’s exceptional ability to convey narrative through her art.

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