Oil on canvas
1.99m by 1.625m
Ahe second Judith scenario is almost identical to the Neapolitan version of ca. 1612-1613. Blood spurts from Holofernes’s neck in a more realistic manner than the early version. His legs, protruding from disheveled bedclothes, are visible in this rendition. Judith now wears a gown of “Artemisia Gold” and more jewelry and wields a larger sword. The characters, too, seem to exert greater effort and experience nervous tension more in keeping with the artist’s skill and maturity.
The owner, Grand Duchess Maria Luisa de’ Medici, hid the painting from view as she considered too horrifying to behold. In 2002, it received its first public display at the Uffizi Gallery.
The Artist’s Life
This is probably Artemisia’s last painting of the Florentine period. On 14th October 1618, a second daughter was born, but she died on 9th June 1619. The fate of her two sons is unknown, but it seems likely that they, too, died in infancy. Her difficulties are compounded by the serious debt that her husband has accumulated unbeknownst to her.
A letter to Cosimo II de’ Medici referred to her return to Rome to visit friends and to recover from illness and family problems. She failed to complete a painting of Hercules promised to the Grand Duke. She reached her hometown in 1621, not long before the death of Grand Duke Cosimo II. She never returned to Florence, probably due to damage done to her reputation because of her debts.