Bowes Museum: Triumph of Judith


The above oil on canvas painting is entitled The Triumph of Judith and is the work of the Italian Baroque painter Luca Giordano. Dating to circa 1703, the scene depicts the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes found in the Old Testament. The story tells of Judith, a Jewish widow who is dismayed with her fellow countrymen for not fighting the invading Assyrian army, led by the general Holofernes. Judith manages to gain favour with Holofernes, promising him information on the Israelites, but after gaining access to his tent where he lay in a drunken sleep, she cut off his head. The loss of their leader prompted the invading Assyrian army to leave Israel.


Luca Giordano depicts the Jewish heroine displaying the head of the Assyrian general to her people. Her maid, Abra, stands behind her while the body of Holofernes is shown lying on the rocks in the foreground. The Israelites, who were on the point of surrender, are shown in amazement whilst the Assyrian soldiers flee in terror. The walls and towers in the background belong to the town of Bethulia, which had been besieged by Assyrian troops.

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