In the painting Judith Decapitating Holofernes, created in 1620. The painting was created by Artemsia Gentileschi; this painting was common in the early Renaissance related to the group of subjects called the power of women. The oil painting on canvas uses high contrast and vivid lines to capture the theatrical essence of the beheading of Holofernes. In this oil painting, the realistic view of both physical and emotional human state is depicted in a vulgar manner. The painting in a summary shows women triumphing over powerful men. The painting depicts a scene from the Old Testament, in reference to the assassination of the Assyrian general Holofernes by the Israelite heroine Judith. The painting captures the scene where Judith and her maidservant, behead the general after he had fallen asleep intoxicated.( cite wiki)
The style of the painting can be characterized by intense light and dark shadows, resilient colors, intense drama and bold contrasts. The painting demonstrates dark shadows, with only the subjects being illuminated. Gentileschi sensationalized this scene by using chiaroscuro light effects and naturalism as opposed to stylization. The painting is portraying a very dark and powerful scene. The shadows of the women and how Gentileschi made the subjects the focal point by blacking out the background in a sense put emphasis on the act of beheading that had taken place.
Naturalism is shown by the blood pouring from the man that has just been beheaded. The painting is very realistic and has many lifelike features. Gentileschi is expressing her past emotions and experiences through her work. The painting symbolizes physical struggle, the quantity of blood spilled, and the physical and psychological strength of Judith and her maidservant. Gentileschi displays the bloody sheets as the immediate foreground, close to the viewer’s space. Naturalism and reality are implied by the display of the blood. Holofernes’s muscular body is then dynamically depicted into space as bold areas of light and dark draw attention to his powerful limbs. Gentileschi’s work portrays two strong, young women working in unison, their sleeves rolled up, their gazes focused, their grips firm. I truly think that Gentileschi’s focal point in this painting were the women and their strength they symbolized. Gentileschi was feminist, during the era that she published this painting it was challenging to receive acceptance by the artistic community or viewers. Her purpose behind publishing this painting was taking a stand to show the community that women have the ability to be powerful and make a difference in a sense.
Gentileschi used directional line brilliantly in her painting to draw our attention to the blood spurting from Holofernes’s neck. The asymmetrical characters come to life in this painting. The use of both horizontal and vertical lines throughout the painting bring reality to the artwork giving the painting an overall sense of motion. By Gentileschi using reliant colors on the women’s clothing she made the characters seem real and as if they are 3D. There is such a strong message that Gentileschi is trying to deliver by this painting and she did just that.
I think that the depth of shadow is what really ties this piece of artwork together. The shadows that are portrayed to bring attention to the foreground of the painting allows the emotion and message shine through that Gentileschi is trying to deliver to her viewers. Every element and principle of design is needed to perfect her bold painting.