Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Andrea Mantegna, Judith with the head of Holofernes, circa 1495–1500. Tempera on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna painted this depiction of the Jewish heroine Judith beheading the Babylonian general Holofernes. Judith stands in the forefront of the painting contrapposto, arms and shoulders contrasting assymetrically with hips and legs, a common feature of Renaissance art. The brilliant colors of her flowing gown, the pinkness of the tent of Holofernes, the soft yellow of the maid’s robe, and the serene, almost distracted face of Judith seem to contrast with the brutality of the event portrayed. Judith still holds the severed head, putting it into the bag held by her maidservant. The foot of Holofernes leads the observer to imagine the brutalized body still in the tent.

Andrea Mantegna, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, circa 1495–1500. Tempera on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

A general of Nebuchadnezzar who attacked Israel, according to the Book of Judith, but was ultimately beheaded by Judith.

Of or relating to ancient lower Mesopotamia and its empire centered in Babylon.

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