Leading Ladies: Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes

7:00 PM

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, 1625

Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most renowned painters of her time after Caravaggio. And she was a woman. Female painters weren't usually accepted by the art community during this time period. However, Gentileschi became part of the Accedemia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She was the firt female painter to be invited to the Accedemia. Gentilechi's subjects in her paintings are usually strong and suffering women. She sought to tell their stories since she was also a strong woman, striving to make her name in art while being held back because of her gender. Gentileschi's skills as a painter are unquestionable. Her subjects are life-like and the detail is amazing. Especially in the drapery, one can see in this painting in the subject's clothes and the curtain above their heads. 

The story of Judith is exactly something that Gentileschi would like to paint. Holofernes went to Judith's house and told her they were to be married. When she refused the not-so-proposing proposal, he proceeded to rape her. Judith took the case to court and Holofernes was found guilty but with no consequences for his actions. Judith took justice into her own hands and snuck into Holofernes' tent with her maidservant, where they beheaded him. Judith makes herself a vigilante, seeking her own justice for a crime committed against her. The darkness of the painting contrasts the figures bright colors  of the skin and clothes, making their action central to their action. 

Gentileschi and Judith both take initiative in their lives to make them leading ladies in art. Not only is the artist Gentileschi a leading lady by becoming the first female painter to have tremendous success as an artist, but the content within her paintings like this one clearly demonstrate women with strong ambitions ready to take the lead and shine in art. 

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