(b. 1477, Castelfranco, d. 1510, Venezia)


c. 1504
Oil on canvas, trasferred from panel, 144 x 68 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Created by Giorgione at about age 26, this painting is one of the few reliably attributed to the painter. It is marked by exceptional skill in the drawing and use of colour as well as by a youthfully playful approach to the Old Testament legend. Giorgione depicts the courageous widow, who saved her city from Assyrian invaders by decapitating their commander Holofernes, in the guise of an enchanting girl whose true weapon is not her sword but her beauty.

In the 17-18th century the painting was attributed to Raphael, later to Moretto da Brescia. Originally it was probably a panel of an altarpiece.

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