The subject of the painting is the Biblical Jewish heroine Judith, who bravely went to the camp of the besieging Assyrians, plied the enemy general Holofernes with drink, and cut off his head. An emblem of virtue, she is accompanied by a servant, and displays her trophy, her head turned towards heaven. Stanzione’s work was influenced by that of Jusepe de Ribera, but he was also interested in the compositional suavity of Guido Reni.
Lucrezia Bonamin, widow of Giovanni Andrea Lumaga, Venice (in 1677; inv., 1677, as "Uno con Giudit stando dritta in piedi, in una mano tiene la testa di Holoferne et nell'altra la nuda spada come trionfante con à canto la vecchia che stà aprendo il sacho per ricevere la testa figura al naturale del Cavaliere Massimo"); Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (probably until d. 1939); her great-nephew, Prince George, Duke of Kent (until 1940; sale, Christie's, London, April 12, 1940, no. 19, as by Gentileschi, for £63 to Frank); [Robert Frank, London, from 1940]; Mrs. Robert Frank, London (until 1957; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, New York, 1957–59; sold to Carter]; Edward W. Carter, Los Angeles (1959)
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. "Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm," December 2, 1988–February 26, 1989, no. 46.
Inventory of Lucrezia Bonamin, widow of Giovanni Andrea Lumaga. January 7, 1677 ["more veneto" 1676] [Archivio di Stato, Venice, Giudice del Proprio, Mobili, reg. 264, c. 108v; published in Refs. Borean and Cecchini 2002 and Moretti 2005; Getty no. I-4457], as "Uno con Giudit stando dritta in piedi, in una mano tiene la testa di Holoferne et nell'altra la nuda spada come trionfante con à canto la vecchia che stà aprendo il sacho per ricevere la testa figura al naturale del Cavaliere Massimo".
Ancient and Modern Pictures & Drawings. Christie's, London. April 12, 1940, p. 6, no. 19, as by Gentileschi; states that it comes from the collection of Charles I.
"European Paintings: Gifts Received." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (October 1959), p. 56, lists it as by Stanzione.
Ferdinando Bologna. Unpublished opinion. 1962, considers it one of Stanzione's masterpieces; dates it soon after 1630, comparing it to the artist's "Assumption of the Virgin" (North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh) and his "John the Baptist Taking Leave of His Parents" (Prado, Madrid).
Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. "Esther before Ahasuerus: A New Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi in the Museum's Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29 (December 1970), p. 166, ill.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript for catalogue of Neapolitan paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [ca. 1970], consider it among the few works by Stanzione that retain their original vividness of color; believe the high quality of this picture and its style—with influences from Reni, Ribera, and Artemisia Gentileschi—suggest a date about 1630–35.
Raffaello Causa. La pittura del Seicento a Napoli dal naturalismo al barocco. Naples, 1972, fig. 308.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 192, 266, 609.
Craig McFayden Felton. "Southern Baroque." Encyclopedia of World Art. Ed. Bernard S. Myers. Vol. 16, New York, 1983, p. 181, describes it as "of high quality, naturalistically real but with classically restrained drama".
Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Civiltà del Seicento a Napoli. Naples, 1984, p. 178, dates it after 1635, when, following the success of Bolognese artists, Stanzione's naturalism becomes more academic; considers the picture characteristic of Stanzione's work of the period, commenting on the decorative effect of the figures and the harmonious juxtaposition of reds, blues, yellows, and browns.
Nicola Spinosa. La pittura napoletana del '600. Milan, 1984, fig. 810.
Wolfgang Prohaska inGuido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm. Ed. Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Andrea Emiliani, and Erich Schleier. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt, 1988, pp. 657–58, no. D46, ill. (color), dates it about 1640–41 and sees the influence of Guido Reni in this monumental, lifesize Judith.
Mary D. Garrard. Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art. Princeton, 1989, pp. 302, 304, ill., mentions it as an example of a seventeenth-century Judith represented as "a pious maiden".
Sebastian Schütze and Thomas Willette. Massimo Stanzione: l'opera completa. Naples, 1992, pp. 58, 76, 208, 221–22, 246, 341, no. A67, ill. (color), date it about 1640 and note that Leone de Castris [unpublished manuscript] places it in the late 1630s or early 1640s; agree with Prohaska [see Ref. 1988] that it shows Reni's influence, but find Stanzione's heroine colder and more distant; observe elements of the late style of Domenichino; based on a photograph, believe that the Poznan Judith is a good copy, probably from the seventeenth century; argue that the Spanish provenance of the Poznan work means that either the MMA painting or a copy after it was sent from Naples to Spain in the seventeenth century and was copied there by a local artist.
Annette Dixon et al. inWomen Who Ruled: Queens, Goddesses, Amazons in Renaissance and Baroque Art. Ed. Annette Dixon. Exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art. London, 2002, pp. 65–66, 159, ill. (color).
Linda Borean and Isabella Cecchini. "Microstorie d'affari e di quadri: i Lumaga tra Venezia e Napoli." Figure di collezionisti a Venezia tra Cinque e Seicento. Ed. Linda Borean and Stefania Mason. Udine, 2002, pp. 212, 222, fig. 4, suggest identifying the MMA painting with a work included in a Lumaga inventory of 1677 [see Ref. Lumaga 1677].
Lino Moretti. "La raccolta Lumaga: Giovanni Andrea Lumaga." Ricerche sul '600 napoletano: saggi e documenti 2005. Naples, 2005, pp. 33, 38–39, 47, 54, 62–63, identifies the Judith included in the Lumaga inventory of January 7, 1677 with one included in subsequent Lumaga inventories of February 12, 1677 ["more veneto" 1676] and August 21, 1690; notes that the description in the January 1677 inventory [see Ref.] corresponds to both the MMA picture and to the copy in Poznan.
Stefania Mason. "Dallo studiolo al 'camaron' dei quadri: un itinerario per dipinti, disegni, stampe e qualche curiosità nelle collezioni della Venezia barocca." Il collezionismo d'arte a Venezia: il Seicento. Ed. Linda Borean and Stefania Mason. Venice, 2007, p. 23, identifies it as formerly in the Lumaga collection.
Isabella Cecchini. "Giovanni Andrea Lumaga." Il collezionismo d'arte a Venezia: il Seicento. Ed. Linda Borean and Stefania Mason. Venice, 2007, pp. 286–87, ill., states that the Stanzione Judith from the Lumaga collection may perhaps be identified with the MMA picture.
Jesse M. Locker. Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting. New Haven, 2015, p. 121, fig. 4.11 (color).
Andrea Bayer. "Better Late than Never: Collecting Baroque Painting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Buying Baroque: Italian Seventeenth-Century Paintings Come to America. Ed. Edgar Peters Bowron. University Park, Pa., 2017, pp. 134, 153 n. 28.
There is an old copy after this work in the Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan (204 x 150 cm).