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Holofernes was the leader of the army of the famous conqueror Nebuchadnezzar. One of the cities of Vetuluya was besieged by enemies. Judith lived in this doomed city. She was distinguished by incredible piety and chastity.
It was impossible to escape. Then Judith chose the best outfit and boldly went straight to the enemies. She fully gained the trust of Holofernes. Once he fell asleep soundly, because before that he drank a lot. Judith calmly cut off his head. The army was left without a commander. An incredible panic began, and everyone simply ran away. Judith began to live, as before. She never got married.
Judith killed Holofernes precisely because he was a pagan. She did it in the name of God. This act became really relevant when the Catholic Church began to suppress all heresy. Judith was an example for religion fanatics.
Caravaggio portrayed Judith very expertly. It is impossible to read the triumph of victory or passion on her face. You can only see that she is decisive and disgusted at the same time. The heroine is dressed in the best outfit that was available to women from the common people.
Usually the heroine was portrayed after she committed this murder. She held a severed head. The artist captured the moment when this terrible event takes place. The head still rests on the body. She's not completely chopped off. Holofernes absolutely rolled out of his eyes, his mouth stopped in a terrible scream. The artist is fascinated by the process itself
The painting naturally conveys the details of decapitation. The smallest details of a physiological nature are shocking. I also contribute to the bright colors used by the artist in order to give the picture maximum vibrancy.
If before Caravaggio, painters paid attention to exploits, the artist was the first to decide to focus on murder. The viewer sees the terrible and incredibly harsh side of this event.
Diego Velazquez Pictures