CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

c. 1530
Lindenwood, 88 x 58 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

By courage and cunning, the Old Testament heroine had succeeded in penetrating into the camp of Holofernes pitched outside the city of Bethulia and putting an end to the menace of the troops of the enemy general with his decapitation. Nearly all known versions of a half-length Judith depiction from Cranach's "Bildermanufaktur" are made around the year 1530 - a striking concentration that is obviously connected with the founding of the Schmalkaldic League: Judith was elected a symbolic figure of "Protestant military will" against the armies of Charles V.

The robe of Judith represents the fashion of the 1530s, known from other portraits of Cranach.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 17 minutes):
Alessandro Scarlatti: La Giuditta, oratorio, Part I (excerpts)