Beheading Holofernes Analysis

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In this representation of Judith being physically in the act of beheading Holofernes, Caravaggio made the distinct choice to stray from the established pictorial traditions of the Book of Judith created by previous artists. For centuries, this scene had been demonstrated by showing Judith and her maid leaving the tent carrying the head of Holofernes or with the two women in the tent with the general’s head-less body visible in the background; that is, until Donatello’s depiction in the mid-fifteenth century with his famous bronze sculpture that implies the courage of commune against oppression. Although, Donatello’s version is still more about the anticipation of the action, and not the beheading itself. Caravaggio has left us with the impression…show more content…
Van Gelder wrote that in the sixteenth century, and all subsequent centuries, it is important to differentiate Catholicism and Protestantism parallel with a third religious movement, well-defined as the “humanistic religion.” While profound, this is a bit difficult to accept, because generalizing the religious beliefs of humanists during the complex sixteenth century is not a simple task. Doing so might even be perceived as naïve to assume this generational shift had anything to do with religion. Any understanding of the Renaissance must rest on a certain selection of facts and how one has chosen to interpret them, and while Dr. Van Gelder’s ideas are difficult to agree or disagree with entirely, it is more probable that this humanistic split is somewhere in between Catholicism and Protestantism. (Weiss) The Book of Judith appears in the Catholic Old Testament, but not in the Protestant Bible because it is not canonical. The name “Judith” is the feminine form of “Judah,” meaning “the Jewess.” Because of this parallel, she is very much a symbol of the Jewish people, Jewish women specifically. A main theme in this story is of the nature of God and how Judith reprimands town officials for attempting to make God in their own image. Judith represents more than just beauty, although that is a major part of her story. She used the tools she had—beauty, intelligence, and cunning—to redeem herself and her people.
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