Murder of Holofernes by Paolo Veronese

Murder of Holofernes by Paolo Veronese

The history of Judith attracted many Renaissance artists. Veronese was no exception. From the Old Testament we know that Judith was a beautiful and pious widow. When the Assyrian commander of Holofernes besieged her hometown and dried up the water, Judith left the city with her servant and a basket of provisions and went to the camp of the enemy. She announced to Holoferna that she was ready to help him take over the city.

The military commander, flaming with passion for the Jew, arranged a magnificent feast for her. When, after the feast, they were left alone, Judith cut off Holofern’s head with his

own sword. She put it in her basket and went back to the city with her maid. The morning of the Assyrian commander’s head was exposed on the city walls. This disconcerted the enemy army, and it, driven by the city militia, fled to Damascus. In the 1580s, Veronese wrote two paintings dedicated to this story and “Judith and Holofernes”).

Both of them show us Judith, who has just killed Holofernes and is about to hand his head to his maid. The savior of the city appears before the audience a young blond woman dressed in the Venetian fashion of the XVI century. The whiteness of her skin is remarkably highlighted by the dark background.

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