According to the apocryphal Book of Judith, the Old Testament heroine liberated her native Jewish city of Bethulia from Assyrian occupation by beheading the Assyrian military commander Holofernes with his own sword after a feast, thus forcing the leaderless troops to flee. Cranach portrays Judith - as a half-length figure - after she has already completed the act of beheading Holofernes. Judith's costume has been tailored according to the latest fashions. That and her individual facial features indicate that what we have here is not an ideal image of the Old Testament heroine but a historically dressed portrait of a lady of the court. The young woman stands behind a stone balustrade before a neutral black and red background against which the silhouette-like character of her body but also the rich, jewel-like colours stand out distinctly. Every detail of the lavishly decorated clothing has been recorded meticulously and with a flair for courtly splendour. At the same time, the robes with their velvety quality and warm, glowing hues, heighten the appeal of the figure's cool, marble-white skin. Cranach cunningly plays out the contrast between emotionless beauty and the cruelty of the theme depicted. The expansive, abstractive pictorial structure, the deeply luminous coloration, the finely executed painting technique and the stylistic conventions oriented towards the courtly ideal of beauty identify this painting as a characteristic example of the artist's Wittenberg period.
[Elsbeth Wiemann, http://onlinekatalog.staatsgalerie.de/detail.jsp?id=133EFD394E8BC6F16A641EAF3C0D084E&img=1; 22-07-2015]