Judith with Head of Holofernes

Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1695

The Jewish heroine Judith saved her city of Bethulia when it was besieged by the Assyrians. Sneaking behind enemy lines, she feigned loyalty to the Assyrian general Holofernes, who became enamored of her. After a banquet, when he was weak with drink, she beheaded him. Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole depicts Judith after the slaying, when she triumphantly entered Behulia’s city gates to display the head of the vanquished enemy to her fellow Israelites. The artist represents Judith as a brave and sensual heroine. Looking directly at the spectator, she calmly brandishes a sword in one hand and gestures with the other to Holofernes’ decapitated head, held in a sack by her maidservant. Judith’s powers of seduction are glimpsed in the treatment of her gown, pulled down to reveal a bare breast. Scholars have noted that Judith’s drapery here closely resembles a famous sculpture type known as "Venus Genetrix," or “Venus the Mother,” well known in the Renaissance and Baroque periods from many extant ancient Roman copies of the cult statue and celebrated for its beauty.

Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Artist Life
Italian (Bologna), 1654 - 1719
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Judith with Head of Holofernes