Judith beheading Holofernes

14 Feb, 2019 700 Arts

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how artists from the Middle Ages onwards have been inspired by the Bible story of the widow who killed an Assyrian general who was besieging her village, and so saved her people from his army and from his master Nebuchadnezzar. A symbol of a woman’s power and the defiance of political tyranny, the image of Judith has been sculpted by Donatello, painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and, in the case of Caravaggio, Liss and Artemisia Gentileschi, been shown with vivid, disturbing detail. What do these interpretations reveal of the attitudes to power and women in their time, and of the artists’ own experiences? The image of Judith, above is from a tapestry in the Duomo, Milan, by Giovanni or Nicola Carcher, 1555

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  • Susan Foister 4 episodes
    Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Painting at the National Gallery
  • John Gash No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Aberdeen
  • Ela Nutu Hall No other episodes
    Research Associate at the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, at the University of Sheffield

Reading list

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    R. Ward Bissell (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999) Google Books →
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  • Violence and Virtue: Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Slaying Holofernes
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Related episodes

Programme ID: m0002hl7

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002hl7

Auto-category: 709 (History of art)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Judith was once one of the most famous women in the Old Testament.