Judith and Holofernes

Clemente Ruta (1685-1767)
18th century, Oil on canvas

The work portrays Judith with the head of Holofernes in her left hand, after cutting it off with the sword she holds in her right hand. Nebuchadnezzar’s general headed a large army which waged war on the West, conquering Anatolia and Syria: he then reached Palestine, but during the siege of Betulia he fell under the spell of Judith, who killed him.

She is sumptuously dressed with a yellow dress over a white tunic held up by a pale blue ribbon with gold buckles, a fluttering red cape rests on her left shoulder. Her head is turned to the right, and she is looking at the sky. On her head is a tiara and a turban, which complete her outfit. In this case the sinuous, elongated silhouette of Judith recalls the painting technique adopted by Parmigianino, and Ruta clearly displays his alignment with the tenets of late baroque, using hues that were clearer and brighter, conveying the concept of light gracefulness.