According to the apocryphal book of the Bible that bears her name, the Jewish heroine Judith saved the city of Bethulia by first beguiling and then beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes. A popular subject of Baroque painting, Judith appears here accompanied by her maid and displaying Holfernes’s severed head as a trophy. This painting was acquired by an American collector during the French Revolution and donated to The Met shortly after its founding, in a reflection of the artist’s high position in nineteenth-century canons of taste.
Inscription: Signed (upper right): D·TENIERS·F
?Collet, Paris; ?Destouches, Paris; John Trumbull and Daniel Parker, Paris and London (until 1797; Trumbull's sale, Christie's, London, February 18, 1797, no. 61, for £25.4 to Nixon); [Nixon, from 1797; returned to Trumbull]; John Trumbull and Daniel Parker, London (until 1799; Trumbull's sale, Christie's, London, May 28, 1799, for £22.3.6, bought in by Trumbull); John Trumbull, London and New York (1799–at least 1816; sold for $500 to Gilmor); Robert Gilmor Jr., Baltimore (by 1825); his nephew, Robert Gilmor, Baltimore (sold to Kemble); Gouverneur Kemble, Cold Spring, N.Y. (until 1872)
New York. American Academy of Fine Arts. 1816, no. 49 (lent by John Trumbull) [see Cowdrey 1953].
Peale's Baltimore Museum. "Second Annual Exhibition in Peale's Baltimore Museum," October 1823, no. 64 (lent by R. Gilmor).
Baltimore. Peale Museum. "Rendezvous for Taste: Peale's Baltimore Museum, 1814 to 1830," February 24–April 22, 1956, no. 127.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861," September 19, 2000–January 7, 2001, no. 43.
Pictures and Books, 1795, D. Parker and J. T. n.d. [manuscript at New-York Historical Society; see transcript in archive file and Ref. Liedtke 1984], as one of seven pictures charged to Trumbull's own account at the sale of 1799.
W[illiam]. Buchanan. Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. London, 1824, vol. 1, p. 265, as from the collections of Collet and Des Touches [Destouches], and as purchased by Nixon for £25.4 at the Trumbull sale of 1797.
John Trumbull. Letter to Robert Gilmor Jr. October 25, 1825 [letter no. 60, Trumbull Papers, New-York Historical Society; see transcript in archive file and Ref. Liedtke 1984], states that he sold it to Nixon, who found it unsalable because it evoked thoughts of the guillotine and returned it.
William Dunlap. History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. New York, 1834, vol. 2, p. 460, as brought from Paris to London by Trumbull.
Gouverneur Kemble. Letter to Frederick Rhinelander. March 2, 1872 [Kensett Papers, 1951, Archives of American Art; see transcript in archive file], mentions his purchase of the picture from the heir of Robert Gilmor Jr., and its previous sale, for $500, by Trumbull to Gilmor.
Mary Bartlett Cowdrey. American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art-Union. New York, 1953, vol. 2, p. 347, as no. 49 in Exh. New York 1816.
Irma B. Jaffe. John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist of the American Revolution. Boston, 1975, p. 174, as bought in at the 1799 sale for £22.3.6.
Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 258–59; vol. 2, pl. 98, observes that "Anna Brueghel, the artist's wife, may have been the model for Judith, but, while Holofernes' head is portrait-like in character, it is not a likeness of Teniers himself"; notes similarities to Rubens's canvas, of about 1625, of the same subject (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence) and to Teniers's "Salome" of about 1656–58 (exhibited at Galerie St. Lucas, Vienna, in winter 1977–78); dates the MMA picture probably during the 1650s.
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 17, fig. 6.
Catherine Hoover Voorsanger and John K. Howat, ed. Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2000, p. 577, no. 43, ill. p. 403 (color).