C2: Maiolica dish: Judith and Holofernes
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Maiolica dish: Judith and Holofernes|
|Object type||In category: Ceramics » Dish|
Workshop of PICCHI Ludovico and Angelo - Potter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Southern Europe » Italy » Central Italy » Marche » Urbino|
21.8 cm diameter
|Materials & techniques||
|Description||Round tondino maiolica dish showing scenes from the story of Judith and Holofernes. Painted using green, yellow, blue, white, brown and black oxides.|
This dish depicts the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. Judith has just decapitated Holofernes, in the company of her maid. This is a painterly treatment of the Apocryphal story of Israel’s salvation by God acting through the unlikely agency of a woman.
Judith dressed in her best finery and set out for the Assyrian camp, accompanied by her maid. Her claims of defection were accepted by Assyrian guards who led her to Holofernes. What follows in the biblical story includes some clear double-entendres, where Judith tells Holofernes of a plan she has to help him since 'God has sent me to do things with thee at which the whole world will be astonished'. Judith and her maid held themselves aloof from the camp for three days, eating only the kosher food they brought from Bethulia and moving from the tent provided by Holofernes only to bathe and pray in the evening. On the fourth evening, Holofernes held a banquet in his tent for the explicit purpose of seducing Judith. However, he fell unconscious after drinking too much.Judith then seized Holofernes’ sword, prays for strength and beheaded him with two strokes. The two women left with Hofernes' head hidden in a sack and returned to Bethulia. There, Judith revealed the head and claimed 'he wrought no deed of sin with me to defile me or cause me shame'.
The result was victory for the Israelites over the Assyrians.
Judith represents a civic/political heroine. The story is often compared with David who overcomes his opponent Goliath with a single act of skill. In contrast Judith was only able to kill Holofernes by using her appearance and deceit.
Judith’s use of her feminine wiles was a common warning in the Renaissance that women represent sex which represents sin. She was a popular subject for women, particularly courtesans who would use maiolica dishes in which Judith appeared to promote an appropriate ambience of seduction in bedrooms, placed on the deep shelves formed by headboards.
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » The Collection » Ceramics
|Provenance||August Richard de Montferrand (1786-1858); sold Christies 14 November 1859 (1); purchased by Sir Thomas William Holburne (1793-1874); by whom bequeathed to Mary Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882), by whom bequeathed to the Museum|