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Power And Power In Judith Slaying Holofernes By Artemisia Gentileschi

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Violence and gore are not uncommon themes in art, however, few paintings depict bloodshed and power with such resounding naturalism as Artemisia Gentileschi's work titled "Judith Slaying Holofernes". The work is an oil on canvas completed in the Baroque era sometime between 1614 to 1620, and depicts Judith and her maidservant holding down the struggling Holofernes as Judith pulls a sword through his neck. Gentileschi utilizes a combination of chiaroscuro and diagonal lines to not only create the lifelikeness and drama of the moment, but also to demonstrate the motions of the struggle as well as continually draw the focus back to the goriest part of the scene with the bloody head of Holofernes.

In order to appreciate the lifelikeness of
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Likewise, half of each woman's facial features are obstructed by shadows creating a deep sense of the ruthlessness in their commitment to holding down and killing Holofernes. Moreover, Holofernes face itself is completely covered in a light shadow compared to the brightness of his arms already giving a perception that his head is separated from his body and his grim fate is imminent.

In addition to Gentileschi's use of chiaroscuro to provide lifelikeness and focus, she poses Holofernes, the maidservant, and Judith at natural angles that provide an idea of the strength involved for maidservant to hold Holofernes down and for Judith to pull the sword through this neck while gripping the hair and beard. Notably, each character is posed in a diagonal position, adding to the feeling of the motion involved in the struggle as the women hold down this large man to behead him. Beginning with Judith, her entire body is angled at a slant, both arms locked in a diagonal position, as well as the right knee placed at a diagonal on the bed displaying the commitment and power it takes to hold Holofernes down while pulling the sword through his neck. Similarly, the maidservant's back is positioned at a steep angle demonstrating the amount of weight she would be placing into her upper body and arms to hold Holofernes down as he pushes back on her with his right arm. Lastly, the sharp downward angle of Holofernes head as it hangs off the edge of the bed adds to the
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