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Judith And Holofernes

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In the late Renaissance, Judith changed considerably, a change described as a "fall from grace"—from an image of Mary she turns into a figure of Eve. Early Renaissance images of Judith tend to depict her as fully dressed and desexualized; besides Donatello's sculpture, this is the Judith seen in Sandro Botticelli's The Return of Judith to Bethulia (1470–1472), Andrea Mantegna's Judith and Holofernes (1495, with a detached head), and in the corner of Michelangelo's Sistine chapel (1508–1512). Later Renaissance artists, notably Lucas Cranach the Elder, who with his workshop painted at least eight Judiths, showed a more sexualized Judith, a "seducer-assassin": "the very clothes that had been introduced into the iconography to stress her chastity become sexually charged as she exposes the gory head to the shocked but fascinated viewer", in the words of art critic Jonathan Jones. This transition, from a desexualized image of Virtue to a more sexual and aggressive woman, is signaled in Giorgione's Judith (c. 1505): "Giorgione shows the heroic instance, the triumph of victory by Judith stepping on Holofernes's severed, decaying head. But the emblem of Virtue is flawed, for the one bare leg appearing through a special slit in the dress evokes eroticism, indicates ambiguity and is thus a first allusion to Judith's future reversals from Mary to Eve, from warrior to femme fatale. " Other Italian painters of the Renaissance who painted the theme include Botticelli, Titian, and Paolo Veronese.

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