“And they came unto her, and she said unto them, Hear me now, O ye governors of the inhabitants of Bethu´lia: for your words that ye have spoken before the people this day are not right, touching this oath which ye made and pronounced between God and you, and have promised to deliver the city to our enemies, unless within these days the Lord turn to help you.
And now who are ye that have tempted God this day, and stand instead of God among the children of men?”
Judith 8:11-12 KJVA
Painting, Oil on canvas, 144×68 cm
Origin: Italy, 1504
Giorgione’s work largely determined the development of 16th-century Venetian painting. There are but a few generally accepted, non-controversial works from his hand and one of these is the Hermitage’s Judith. This biblical heroine, who saved her native city of Bethulia from attack by the Assyrians, was extremely popular during the Renaissance . Despite the historical subject, the painting is in fact what is known as a poesie, a type of work created by Giorgione himself and soon widespread in early 16th-century Venetian painting. The lyrical, charming image of Judith herself and the coolness of the morning landscape create the mood of poetical thoughtfulness, which is not disturbed even by the severed head of the enemy commander Holofernes. The world is depicted by the artist as a harmonic whole, in which life and death are indissoluble.
Source of entry: Collection of baron L.A. Crozat de Tierra, Paris, 1772
Theme: The Bible and Christianity