Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472–1553)
Oil on wood
35 1/4 x 24 3/8 in. (89.5 x 61.9 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.15)
Judith, who is adorned "so as to allure the eyes of all men that should see her" (Judith 10:4, Apocrypha), demurely rests her arm on the severed head of Holofernes, her people's enemy. Her fantastically elaborate costume is characteristic of Cranach's courtly mannerism. Cranach painted several versions of the apocryphal Old Testament heroine. Here, he represented Judith as one of his typically delicate, blonde women, whose circumspect expression contrasts sharply with the heavy sword in her right hand and the bluntly lifeless head resting under her left. The goriness of the severed neck must have offended the sensibilities of an owner of the painting, because it was concealed with an extra layer of beard, which was removed by a restorer after the Museum acquired the work. This version has been dated about 1530.