Critical Appreciation Of Judith Decapitating Holofernes

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From Whitney Chadwick third edition of Women, Art, and Society, the piece of artwork that engaged me deeply from this book is the 17th Century Italian Baroque painting Judith Decapitating Holofernes c. 1618 by Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi. This painting is oil on canvas painting in the style of classical Italian Baroque characteristics of chiaroscuro, dramatic realism, naturalistic, and rich vivid colors. What I see physically at first from the painting is at the center of the work a violent action is being played out by two young women using a sword to behead a man’s head while he’s in bed. I can see the arm strength of Judith and her maidservant in the way they’re holding the man down to keep him still while their killing him and in the way the artist arranges the women’s arms. I also see the amazement, terror, and vulnerability Holofernes is feeling by the way Artemisia painted in such detail in the look in his unnaturally wide eyes due to shock, his mouth is open like he’s either screaming for help or in pain, and how his body is contorted in an uncomfortable arrangement almost like he’s trying to get up to stop this assault. What mostly draws me and holds my attention to this painting is the raw intensified emotion Artemisia can show of the three characters in this dramatic climatic scene, how theatrical she is with the blood when Judith cuts into Holofernes neck, raw emotions, and how to me other paintings seem so “tame” compared to Artemisia Judith. I

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