Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Judith at the banquet of Holofernes

oil on canvas (143 × 155 cm) — 1634 Museum Museo del Prado, Madrid

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to Judith 12:13

Tags: Judith

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Judith has gained access to the camp of enemy warlord Holofernes. She made him believe that she was willing to defect. Her beauty may have helped her in convincing Holofernes. A few days later Holofernes invites her to a banquet.

Rembrandt here shows how she prepares herself for the feast. The book on the table is probably a Bible, as Judith was a very pious woman.

The servant in the background refers to events yet to happen. She is holding the bag in which Judith was to put Holofernes' head, later that night.

This painting was long thought to depict a different subject: Artemisia drinking her husband's ashes. But in 2009 the Prado used radiography to determine which parts had been retouched or painted over. That showed that Rembrandt was actually telling the story of Judith, and not Artemisia's.

Artemisia, or Artemis, was queen of Caria until 350 BC. Caria was a region in western Anatolia. Legend has it that out of affection for her late husband Mausolus, Artemisia had a drink every day with some of his ashes in it.

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