XII. JUDITH

“Artemisia worked hard to do a great job in Judith that kills Holofernes – that slaughters Holofernes we should say! - in two large versions (Florence and Naples) and a small replica on blackboard conserved by the Archbishop of Milan. But the split between thought and result, between civilization and creation that we already sensed in Orazio, is repeated here in his daughter’s work with an almost tragic fate, as pictorial qualities of the first order will be lost due to disgust. Who would think that over a sheet so candid with shades worthy of a Vermeer, a so brutal and terrible massacre could happen that they seemed painted by the hand of an executioner? But - comes the urge to say - but this is the terrible woman! A woman painted all this?

We ask for mercy. We do not want in any case to follow Schmerber in his observations on the big sadistic spirit of the time, since there is nothing sadistic here, if what is surprising is, in fact, the feral impassibility of who painted this, and she even managed to find that the blood spurting with violence can adorn the central jet with two edges of flying droplets! Incredible, I tell you! And then, for God’s sake, give Mrs. Schiattesi - this is the wedding name of  Artemisia - the time to choose the hilt of the sword for her need! Finally, don’t you think that Judith moves as much as possible to prevent the blood to stain her yellow silk gown?
Anyway we think that the gown must be from Gentileschi’s home, the finest silk wardrobe of the European XVII century, second only to Van Dyck’s...”.

Roberto Longhi, Padre e Figlia, L’Arte, 1916

 

 

Stefano LANDI (1587 – 1639)
Alla guerra (Quinto libro delle arie, Venezia, Bartolomeo Magni, 1637)

 

To the wars of love
Hasten, o Lovers:
No more sighing,
No more torments.
To the wars of love,
To arms, to arms.
Help, help, my heart is leaving me!
Where is my life?
Ah! Cruel parting:
Mercy!

 

 

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