Judith with the Head of Holofernes: Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lucas Cranach the Elder: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes is part of a sub-genre of the Northern Renaissance relating to the power of women. The story is biblical: the Assyrian general is decapitated by Judith whose town he intends to destroy. Cranach’s Judith is calm, upright and self-assured, in contemporary aristocratic dress.

There is no violence in the picture but its remnant horror is etched on the face of the dead tyrant. Perhaps the picture can be read also as a projected victory for the Protestant Reformation over a supposedly dissolute Catholic Church. It was painted in 1530.

Lucas Cranach the Elder: Judith with the Head of Holofernes is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

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