Cranach - Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
24.06.2018 - 10:32
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_SGS_643
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR230
Judith with the Head of Holofernes[; 22-07-2015]
Lucas Cranach the Elder [; 22-07-2015]
Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder 'not single-handed by Cranach' [Koepplin, in Exhib. Cat. 1974, 784]
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about 1530[; 22-07-2015]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerLand Baden-Württemberg
RepositoryStaatsgalerie Stuttgart
Dimensions of support: 86.5 x 58.5 cm [cda 2015]
Painting on Lime wood [; 22-07-2015]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia at the bottom left: serpent with elevated wings, facing right, in white paint [Elsbeth Wiemann, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, revised 2015]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart inventory label [Elsbeth Wiemann, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, revised 2015]
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,; 22-07-2015]
- Friedrich Freiherr von Salmuth, Heidelberg
- acquired 1847
[Cat. Stuttgart 1992, 96-98]
- Berlin 1937, No. 79
- Brussels 2010, No. 114
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Exhib. Cat. Brussels 2010212-213114
Cat. Stuttgart 199296-98
Cat. Stuttgart 198947-48
Antoni 1988192, 304
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979116230
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974418, 784232
Schade 197485
Exhib. Cat. Vienna 197224, 28
Zimmer 1971124
Cat. Stuttgart 196257
Cat. Stuttgart 195769
Posse 194261
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 19373279
Friedländer, Rosenberg 193265190
Cat. Stuttgart 193137
Glaser 1921 A233
Cat. Stuttgart 1917185
Cat. Stuttgart 1907485
Cat. Stuttgart 190345
Michaelson 1902108
Cat. Stuttgart 190069529
Cat. Stuttgart 188862529
Cat. Stuttgart 1867108451
Cat. Stuttgart 186398451
Cat. Stuttgart 1856106537
Schuchardt 1851 C123395
Cat. Stuttgart 1847654
Cat. Stuttgart 1844654
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 01.06.2015
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatsgalerie Stuttgart - Judith with the Head of Holofernes - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing
    - fluid, black medium; brush

    - cursory, freehand underdrawing
    - thin and slightly broader lines
    - relatively binding for the final painted version; the lines delineate the main contours and describe essential details and facial features; no representation volume with hatching-strokes

    - minor corrections were made to forms during the painting process; small changes


    - Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop
    [Sandner, Smith-Contini, Heydenreich, cda 2016]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • Date: 2015
    • Technical Examination
    • Support
    • - the dimensions of the panel are original
      - the panel is made from vertically aligned planks
      - the edge of the ground layer has been retained on all sides
      • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich
      Condition Reports:
      • Date: 2015
      • - the panel has been thinned and cradled
      • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich