"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
I am back after taking a short break from Blogging
and hope to visit many Blogs over the next few weeks!
Caravaggio: Judith Beheading Holofernes 1598-99
OK, the subject matter is a bit grim;The Book of Judithis in the Catholic Old Testament but
not in the Hebrew or Protestant versions. It is found
in the Apocrypha because some scholars consider it's many
anachronisms cause them to relegate it’s status. It has even been described as the 'first historical novel'!
However, this post is about Caravaggio and his painting. Michelangelo Merisi Merigida Caravaggiowas born
in Milan in 1571 and died, probably murdered by any of a number of people out
for revenge, in 1610 aged 38. His life was tumultuous even by the standards of
those times. He frequently had to relocate his home after being involved in drunken
style is usually considered to be early Baroque which is complex but broadly
can be associated with the Catholic Church trying to re-assert itself in the
face of Protestant reform.
has many very interesting aspects. It captures the highly dramatic moment of
decapitation. There is another superb painting of this subject by Artemisia
Gentileschi which I have shown below.
For me, what separates the two pictures is the expression on Judith’s face in
the Caravaggio version. It seems to convey her repulsion and determination at
the same time. Caravaggio had witnessed the public execution by beheading of Beatrice Celini in Rome and he has managed to convey the horrific moment when a man loses his life with incredible anatomical detail. One would usually'read' a painting left to right but this composition is unusual in that the two women enter from the right.
Caravaggio is renowned for his importance in developing the style known as Chiaroscuro. This involves the use of strong contrasts often used in religious painting where a dramatic shaft of light illuminates the subject.
Footnote: Judith was a Hebrew woman who got Holofernes
drunk in order to slay him. He was a general of Nebuchadnezzar who was charged
with subjugating all of the nations who worshiped other Gods than Nebuchadnezzar
himself. The painting can be seen as an allegory of Virtue versus Evil.
Artemisia Gentileschi was extremely unusual in being an, eventually, recognised female artist of the very highest quality.