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

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

c. 1530
Oil on linden panel, 88 x 63 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In this panel Judith presents the severed head of Holofernes, the Assyrian general directing the siege of her city, having killed him with his own sword. The virtuous heroine, who seduced the enemy with her coquettish appeal, is dressed in an elaborate contemporary costume that is characteristic of Cranach's courtly mannerism.

The painter and his workshop produced several versions of this successful composition, which contrasts the gruesome head and the serene beauty of the biblical heroine. At the lower right, Cranach placed his insignia, a crowned winged serpent with a ring in its mouth.