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Klimt’s Judith in the Hague’s Gemeentemuseum in 2016

My first post was dedicated to Caravaggio’s depiction of the biblical story of Judith beheading Holofernes. Maybe something about that story is in the air these days, since Yesterday I read the exciting news of Gustav Klimt’s Judith visiting the Hague’s Gemeentemuseum in 2016.

I have had the pleasure of meeting this Judith in Vienna a couple of years ago. I was absolutely mesmerized by this masterpiece. The use of gold foil and the way Klimt has chosen to portray his heroin, were impressive.

If you look at the way Judith is depicted throughout the history of art, we have gotten familiar with a fierce woman. She is almost always accompanied by a sword and clearly not afraid to use it.
Well, Klimt’s Judith is a different type.
In this work, we see her portrayed as a sensual woman. Look at her eyes and the way she looks down on us viewers, her mouth opened. She is half naked, her breasts clearly visible. With this erotic portrayal of Judith Klimt gives us a whole new look on the story.

Only once you take your eyes of her face, you will notice that she is holding a head underneath her left arm. It really is just to tell us that we are indeed looking at Holofernes’ Judith. Klimt has even cut off (no pun intended) half of his head, so we only see a small part of it.
What strikes me about the head though, is the way Judith touches it. With her right hand she seems to almost tenderly stroke Holofernes’ hair. The gesture is both powerful and gentle at the same time.

I am very excited that the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague is bringing this work to the Netherlands and can’t wait to go see it again.

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, from March 12, 2016. More details will be released through their website.

Gustav Klimts Judith I (en het hoofd van Holofernes)
Gustav Klimt, Judith I (und der Kopf des Holofernes), 1901. Oil on canvas, 84 x 42 cm. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna.


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