Saturday, September 10

Judith and Holofernes

Judith and Holofernes

A sculpture by Donatello

This was one of the statues I really enjoyed when we took a trip to Italy this summer. There a mock version outside the Palazzo Vecchio (a previous home of the Medici family in Florence, Italy) standing in one of the statues original places.

It is a bronze statue by Donatello in 1460. The real statue can be seen in the Hall of Lilies (Sala dei Gigli) in Palazzo Vecchio.

This piece of are depicts the woman standing, named Judith, assassinating the Assyrian general Holofernes. It is based off of a bible story. One of the reoccurring themes in Italy was a religious undertone. Which makes sense considering the head of the catholic church is in the Vatican, which is in Rome.
The legend goes that King Nebuchadnezzar of Nineveh ordered his general Holofernes to defeat the Jews, his enemies. Judith (meaning Jewish woman) was a beautiful widow who snuck into the Assyrian camp late one night and seduced the General. Then when he is drunk she cuts off his head and brings it back her people, the decapitated head her trophy. The Jews then are rallied to raid the Assyrian camp and push them away.
Judith is a symbol of justice, weak defeating the strong, liberty and victory.

This is one of the earliest free standing statues in Renaissance statures. It was commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici to stand in the garden next to the statue of David. Originally it was guilded, but now the only guilding can be seen at the top of the sword blade. Supposedly the statue pedestal was inscribed with "Kingdoms fall through luxury, cities rise through virtues; behold the neck of pride severed by humility." and possibly other inscriptions, but today the only thing left of the pedestal is Donatello's signature, this is one of the only works of art he signed.

If you notice the wallpaper behind the statue, I think this was beautiful. The top of the room was crowned in elaborate golden decorations, but the walls had columns painted so realistically they seemed practically three dimensional. 

*All the pictures above were taken by Ally McAlpine
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