In what ways
has methodology/theory determined the historiography of Gentileschi’s –
and Holofernes” and Rego’s “Dog Woman”? What theoretical tools
contribute further or fresh interpretations of these works and shared theme of
masterpiece, the “Judith and
Holofernes” famous in two renditions (Rome, ca. 1612– 13 and
Uffizi, ca. 1620) delineates two women murdering a defenceless man—a standout
amongst the most chilling shows of female power at any point made—is vulgarly
changed over into a sexual emulate, in which Judith triumphs over Holofernes
and crawls into intimacy with him. Artemisia being a rape victim should in some
way or another have related to Judith, and however some have tried to
limit Judith’ s obvious viciousness by naming the piece a unimportant
reprisal picture, it is for the most part comprehended that the artistic
expressive power was probably going to have been filled by personal emotion.
Artemisia’s painting is a standout amongst the most wicked and striking
pictures of the scene, outperforming the one by Caravaggio, in its
instantaneousness and stunning realism. Artemisia was surely acquainted with
the Caravaggio’s version. Artemisia’s dad – Orazio, who was in charge of her
art education, was a companion of Caravaggio and a painter. Caravaggio,
enlivened, and was maybe even challenged, by youthful Artemisia.
For the canvas, the artist chose the moment when the Israeli Judith,
seduced by the Assyrian commander Holofernes, whose army besieged her hometown,
kills him. Gentileschi depicts a bloody scene with frightening details: the
maid tries to keep distraught Holofernes with fear, and Judith grabs him by the
hair and thrusts into the neck the blade of the sword.
Painting Caravaggio, who also portrayed Judith and Holofernes, David
with Goliath’s head, distinguished dramatic drama. The influence of this master
explains the complex poses in the painting Gentileschi, and the bright white
light, like a flash of lightning, snatching out of the darkness of the figure.
Like her correspondence teacher, Gentileschi skilfully depicts a human body,
now strong and tense, like the hands of Judith, now soft and almost helpless,
like the shoulders and feet of Holofernes.
Developing around the invisible axis of the composition, the forced
emotions of the characters, some theatricality inherent in the depicted – these
are the signs of baroque art, in which the artist showed herself.
Correlation between the pieces isn’t just her obligation to the painter,
yet it is addition of various acute changes that escalate the force of physical
battle, the measure of blood spilled and the physical and mental quality of
Judith and her damsel. In Artemisia’s version the blood sheets are in the
frontal area, alongside the space of the watcher. The powerful body of
Holofernes progressively distends into the delineated space, since dauntless
territories of light and murkiness attract attention to its strong limbs.
And most importantly, while Caravaggio joins her delicate Judith with a
haggard servant who just looks at her, her eyes are wide open with disbelief,
Artemisia portrays two strong young women working in unison, their sleeves
folded, their views are focused, their pens are solid. Judith of Caravaggio
gracefully departs from her terrible task; Judith of Artemesia does not flinch.
Instead, she clings to the bed as she presses Holofernes’s head with one hand
and pulls the big sword across the neck to the other. The wrinkles on her
wrists clearly show physical strength. Holofernes fights in vain, the pull of
his hands is opposed to the more power movement of Abras, Judith’s accomplice
in this terrible act.
Uffizi “Judith and Holofernes”
is the second story of Artemisia about this narrative. The first, executed in
Rome c. 1611-12, and now in the museum of Capodimonte in Naples, a dynamic
composition is presented, focused on traction and oncoming traction of long
limbs. Artemisia specified the composition in the second (Uffizi) version.
Small but significant adjustments show her growing technical skills, her
understanding of the local Florentine taste for luxurious fabrics and her
thoughtful consideration of the expressive potential of every detail. Fragments
of anatomy and proportions have been corrected (for example, the Holofernes),
the colors and textures of the tissues are now richer (note the red velvet
draped over the Holofernes and the gold damask of Artemisia’s dress), and
Judith’s hair is more closely curled, according to the emphasis on the biblical
text on her self-esteem.
The most striking, however, is the image of blood. The version of Uffizi
reduces the blood that was raging from the neck of Holofern. Like Caravaggio,
the Uffizi painting places a special emphasis on this detail and does it with
even greater realism.
Rivers of blood are draining down from his neck and spread along the bed.1
The sword, here longer and held all the more vertically stretches out from
Abra’s arm to the blood that keeps dripping downwards the edge of the bed. This
strong visual enhances the power of women and gore over the case. It is not by
chance that the fist that clutches Judith’s sword is at the very center of the
composition; filled with the divine power, the hand of this widow is now the
hand of God, protecting the Israelites from their enemies.
The novel picture of Judith and Abra, incited researchers to contend
that Artemisia was related to the primary character of the story as her male
associates did not. This affiliation is related with their gender, as well as
with her own horrendous experience of Artemisia. Artemisia was assaulted at seventeen
years old by the painter A. Tassi, a dear companion of her dad. At the point
when Tassie did not wed her, as the social totalitariat of that time requested,
her dad looked for lawful plan of action. Amid the havoc, Artemisia portrays
her battle with Tassi and her endeavour to assault him with a blade. The
principal rendition of “Judith and
Holofernes” alludes to this troublesome period in the painter’s life. The
memory of this occasion was likely associated with the interest of Artemisia
with the historical backround of Judith. Most importantly is the depiction of young
Abra trying to aid Judith instead of Particularly critical is the picture o
Abra as a youthful, solid and completely engaged with helping Judith. The
portrayal of goddess of chastity and hunting on Artemisias bracelet serves as
pillar of support of the relationship between her and Abra
In spite of the fact that Judith’s story most likely had an individual
criticalness for Artemisia, it is imperative to take note of its more extensive
social valence. The historical backdrop of Judith was particularly well known
amid the Baroque time frame in the visual expressions, as well as in writing,
theater and music. A case of the triumph of goodness over indecencies, the
security of God from his picked individuals from their adversaries, Judith was
likewise observed as the Old Testament antipode of the Virgin Mary and, as a
continuation, as an image of the Church. This affiliation mostly clarifies the
expansion in Judith’s pictures in the late sixteenth seventeenth hundreds of
years, when the Catholic Church took an interest in clashes with the two
Protestants and Ottoman Turks, whose eastern starting point encouraged their
relationship with Holofernes. Artemisia and her peers exploited this fame,
frequently portraying the snapshot of execution, as well as the minute
instantly after her, when Judith and her cleaning specialist leave the
adversary camp. The emotional capability of the story made it a perfect protest
for the solid showiness of the Baroque workmanship.
Artemisia signed the painting in the lower bottom corner and thus showed
her appreciation to the painting. In this painting she had showcased her skill
set over baroque-realism, emphasising on proximity to the picture plane, strong
chiaroscuro and realistic details to create an especially powerful image of the
dramatic climax of history. The bold spontaneity of this finely tuned
composition has succeeded too well, because at the end of the 18th century,
disgusted with the horror of the scene, the Duchess of the Medici banished this
masterpiece into a dark corner of the Uffizi where he remained until the end of
the twentieth century. To this day, he impresses his audience with both disgust
and fear of the art of the artist, who so convincingly turned the paint into
The Capodimente form of the photo was composed by Artemisia amid those
seven months after a heavy trial of the painter Agostino Tassi of despoiling
the respect of Artemisia, and she was compelled to escape from Rome to
This scandalous episode ousted Artemisia from the history
of art for a long time. Only in the last century the artist’s work was
thoroughly studied and re-evaluated and she was recognized as one of the most
talented painters of her generation.
Artemisia’s works are a reflection of her bitter
experience. In them we meet various mythical and biblical heroines – women of
strong, warlike, unhappy and suffering. The story of Judith is often present in
the artist’s work. So no wonder that under the guise of Holofernes she
portrayed her lover Agostino in the picture, and in the image of Judith – herself.
All subsequent life Artemisia will choose for pictures of the plot,
where a woman is forced to either tolerate violence, or somehow fight it. The
Old Testament Susanna in her painting suffers the filthy harassment of the
Babylonian elders. Jael, a Kenene tribe, drives an iron stake into the body of
the enemy commander of Sisera. The Roman heroine Lucretia decides to commit
suicide after the experience of violence. Judith and her servant-accomplice,
more than once for the career of Gentileschi will keep in hands the severed
head of Holofernes
Paula Rego’s long effect joined early works from arrangements of the
1950th and 60th, and arrangement with wildlife animals of the 80th years and
enormous structures, pastels and arrangement of the prints, inscriptions and
lithographs. This blast was constructed on
her imagination and children’s memoirs.2
Her primary assignment is the visual story of the abnormal and intriguing
history, with the rest subordinated to this reason. Her photos are base on
understanding of the adolescence, her relations with individuals around and
family existence with every one of its challenges. The spouse Victor Villing
determined its subject of pictures by the words “domination and mutiny,
suffocation and escape”. Rego’s invents own stories, freely interprets the
taking place events and emotions.
Paula’s childhood furnishes the clue to roots of her graphic art, there
was a loneliness and misunderstanding, fascinating stories told by grandmothers
and grandfathers, traditions of a painted Portuguese tile, Cruikshank, Dore and
Gilroy’s illustration, later opening for themselves Dubuffet and, of course,
Goya, art of outsiders.
The style of the artist is often compared to comics. As well as in
caricatures, she often represents animals in human shape and everyday
situations. The pictures of Rego’s are often similar to ominous fairy tales in
which harm of domination of the person over the person is declared. Her later
works are performed in more realistic style, but sometimes she comes back to a
subject of animals, as in The Woman Is the Dog series (the 1990th
years). In this Rego’s series in the equipment of pastel represents women in various
dog poses (on all fours, barking at the moon, etc.). The exhibition of her acrylic
pictures “Girls & Dogs” has gone over with success in Edward Tot’s gallery.
After this exhibition, Paula had entered the Marlborough Fine Art Association.
Rego’s bravely represents sharp social realities, which cause polemic in
society. Striking example of it is her Triptych (1998) devoted to problems of
abortions, has been written in 2000 in response to the forthcoming referendum
in Portugal concerning abortions. There a feeling of anger of the author and an
appeal to hear her voice is expressed, a series carries on the traditions of
political graphics. Clothes of characters play an important role in the pictures
Rego’s as bright expression of her visual stories. Often she dresses the models
in those clothes which she wore herself, being still a child in Portugal. The
artist considers that the character of clothes is expressed, if the worn
clothes tighten the body, giving feeling of integrity, and the person lives and
makes acts in the clothes.
by the story, a friend wrote for her, Paula Rego’s draws her dog in the past, referring
to the crude physicality of Degas’s drawings. “To be a dog woman is not necessarily to be downtrodden; that has very
little to do with it,” She explained, “In
these pictures every woman’s a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be
bestial is good. It’s physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with
sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly
In her paintings, Rego’s never takes the side of the character.
Dichotomies, good and bad, do not attract her. She likes things randomly. In
the work of Rego’s, as in the stories telling about her life, there is no
search for rational explanation. What interests her is exactly what is
distracted from our rational attention. Her look and the look of the characters
in her photographs are completely subjective. In the work of Rego’s, the world
of the imagination becomes a larger reality and we can see things that we
usually prefer not to see.
And always its subject is, apparently, familiar – bourgeois, domestic,
family relations – characters that we must perceive, moms and daughters, young
ladies with their pets. Be that as it may, by one means or another now it
transformed into a twisted dream. It is likely reasonable for say that a large
portion of her artistic creations sensationalize want and blame. Her figures
adhere to these two mental standards.
Gentileschi’s, Uffizi variant of “Judith and Holofernes”
requires a passionate, physically dynamic reaction. The figures are arranged
from the dull and taboo foundation; dark – outline for the power of the face
and body of the courageous woman; white bed under a basic white canvas for
expressive violence in the dash. Each figure carries a red item in their
drapery, a premonition of extreme violence that ultimately unites the three
figures, as red blood spills out of the neck of Holofernes to spray the hands,
and busts of Judith and her maid. The artistic sphere in which this picture was
presented was solely in the power of men’s ideals about how gender and
femininity should act, making this established scene unexpectedly problematic,
as it was done by a woman. However, Butler argued that gender is not fixed: “The sex/gender distinction and the category
of sex itself appear to presuppose generalization of “the body” that pre –
exists the acquisition of its sexed significance”3.
In comparison Rego’s “Dog Woman” similarly can be seen as a resistance
to the desire of her contemporaries to classify her within a sustainable female
identity that is consistent with gender norms. As M.M. Ponty mentions: “Thus the permanence of one’s own body, if
only classical psychology had analyses it, might have led it to the body no
longer conceived as an object of the world, but as our means of communication
with it, to the world no longer conceived as a collection of determinate
objects, but as the horizon latent in all our experience and itself ever –
present and anterior to every determining thought”.ii
The fulfilment of cultural habits and norms associated with masculinity
in the contemporary context of “Dog
Woman” is an important aspect in the analysis of Rego’s and her art. This
essay explores how the adoption of these practices, according to Judith
Butler’s theories on gender indicators, enabled Rego’s to adapt her own persona
and to respond to the patriarchal society in which she lived, and to the masculine
society in which she released her art. Some possible misconceptions among
scholarships about how Rego’s contributed to her own were set out and
critically evaluated in order to reveal a fully implemented gender identity in Rego’s
heroines depicted in her paintings. Henceforth she had adopted the artistic
language established for the representations of male objects in order to combat
the pressure that she felt compelled to work under her patriarchal environment.
The expression of the figure in the painting is looking violent and extreme yet
is able to deliver a message similar to that of a renaissance painting of
“A body can be
anything, it can be an animal, a body of sounds, a mind or idea, it can be a
linguistic corpus, a social body, a collectivity”, G. Deleuze
The body may have multiple forms and may propose that message of the
feminism may have been carried in a grotesque from of Rego’s “Dog Woman” as well as Judith.
Artemisia Gentileschi turned into an all
around regarded female painter amid the Italian Baroque time, when male painters
were the standard. Utilizing a socio philosophical approach this paper turned
to social and cultural standards in the seventeenth century keeping in mind the
end goal to examine the Judith pieces in another specific circumstance. By
taking a look at the way of life of the seventeenth century, this paper
demonstrated Gentileschi’s procedure of conquering the underlying trial in 1612.
Through this examination and portrayal we dissected Gentileschi’s works of art
on a straight course of events by interfacing her background, associations with
her life, and the contrasts between the male and female portrayals of a similar
subject. Associations were especially made between Judith’s story and
Gentileschi’s life inside the prisma. Judith was a solid female character who
conquered a solid male character.
Gentileschi could make her own style,
affected by both Mannerism and Caravaggism. She could refine the strategy of
chiaroscuro to feature the zones of the depictions. This examination has
demonstrated the benefit of interfacing social brain research to the works of
Gentileschi suggesting that we may be able to find some new interpretations by
exploring routes that were not chosen by previous scholars.
Word Count: 2760
1 Leonardo Mann, The Story of Passion (Berkley CA: Mizan
2 John McEwen, Paula Rego, (Phaidon Press: 2nd
3 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (Routledge, 2006), 56.
i Fiona Bradley,
“Paula Rego (Modern Artist Series)”. (Tate
Publishing: 1st Edition, 2002), 28.
Merleau – Ponty, “Phenomenology of
Perception”. (Routledge, 2013), 14.
iii Gilles Deleuze, Robert
Guattari, “Ethology: Spinoza and Us”.
(City Lights Publisher, 2001), 92.
Leonardo. The Story of Passion. Berkley
CA: Mizan Press, 1989.
Hero in Italian Baroque Art.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
Christiansen, Chris. Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013.
John. Paula Rego. Phaidon Press: 2nd
Fiona. Paula Rego (Modern Artist Series).
Tate Publishing: 1st Edition, 2002.
Judith. Gender Trouble. Routledge,
Merleau – Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception”. Routledge, 2013.
Gilles. Ethology: Spinoza and Us.
City Lights Publisher, 2001.