Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco) 1477-1510
Oil on canvas (transferred from panel); 144 x 68 cm
This work is regarded as the best of the Hermitage's works from the
Venetian School. The artist
has taken as his subject the Biblical legend of Judith. When the Assyrian
army laid siege to her native town of Bethulia, Judith set out to save
both the city and its people. She penetrated the camp of Holofernes, commander
of the enemy army, fascinated him with her beauty and intelligence, and
when left alone with him after a banquet, beheaded the sleepy general
with his own sword. Rather than depicting the final dramatic scene of
the legend, Giorgione represents Judith in a state of tranquil meditation.
The serenity of both the heroine and the landscape behind her do not seem
to be in keeping with the dramatic events set out in the Bible, and only
her traditional attributes confirm Judith as the subject of the painting.