Caravaggio’s Iconic Piece, Judith Beheading Holofernes

Caravaggio’s Iconic Piece, Judith Beheading Holofernes

Caravaggio is a talented painter who was one of the founders of modern art and painting in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds. This expressive artist shown by his alarmingly realistic and religious pieces, became a very controversial but also loved figure in art. His works like “Boy with a Basket of Fruit”, “Bodied and Shadows”, “David with the Head of Goliath”, and many more of his works proved this very trait about his fascinating pieces. The artist’s focus away from beauty that can maybe deceive, his focus in art is directed to purposely create an ugly reality that emphasizes on an intensely gore-like image that really makes the viewer of the art not only think, but be stunned in awe. This presents his creative but also his gruesomely violent, sinful, and degenerate spirit. His works created the building blocks for Western art to become more realist and expressive, which influenced the work of other artists down the line, such as Théodore Géricault, Simon Vouet, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Diego Velázquez.


One of his most renowned pieces however, was one of his numerous religious artworks, “Judith Beheading Holofernes”. The context of the piece starts with the Assyrian general under the rule of Assyrian leader Nebuchadnezzar. Holofernes was one of the military generals the king sent to the Levant region, ( Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon ) particularly Israel. This is where Judith comes in as the violent, but clever hero of the story. Judith puts on her best look to approach the army in a peaceful manner. When she does this, Holofernes becomes smitten with her because of her beauty.

 

As the two eat and drink, Holofernes becomes intoxicated to the point where he falls asleep, not a very professional general. Because of this, Judith has the chance to decapitate the general. It is a frighteningly graphic, bloody, and violent act. This shows the courage she has for the Jewish people to kill and stop anyone who threatens their sovereignty, culture, and religion. The blood spewing everywhere, and the merciless strike, all appeal to the mixed emotions felt by viewers of this piece. Caravaggio shows that he can strongly utilize realism and emotions in any art piece.

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