Lorenzo Sabatini
(Bologna 1530 – Roma 1576)

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Oil on canvas, 110 x 85 cm (43 x 33 inches)

Cold and composed like a butcher serving a cut of beef, she wears a purple/bordeaux tunic and the marble surface, placed in the lobby of a building, is stained with blood. The heavy, chromium oxide-green curtains protect against prying eyes and the background is the night. She is holding his head by the curly beard; the half-closed eye and mouth speak of the Assyrian hero’s sudden death; treacherous, during his sleep. His glistening steel helmet, with its cheek-pieces pointed like two knife blades, was of no help; placed beside the head that it was supposed to protect it serves as a reminder that, despite any armour, omnia vincit Amor. Agostino Carracci also liked this motto, reproducing the picture with only minor corrections (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7: Agostino Carracci, Judith with the Head of Holofernes. London, The British Museum.