August Riedel painted his Judith in 1840, the same year that Friedrich Hebbel’s drama was first performed, and I’ve often wondered if the two are somehow connected, if, maybe, this is the portrait of an actress in the costume of Hebbel’s Judith or something like that. But Riedel lived in Rome at the time, the play was performed in Berlin, and the dramatist and the artist did not know each other, so it’s most likely just a coincidence.

In any case it’s one of the last classical treatments of the subject, and one of the best. It has the characteristics of a portrait, note the neutral gray background that David introduced, or that Holofernes’ head is half hidden behind Judith like an irrelevant prop. The model is said to have been one Grazia, twenty year old daughter of a brigand from Sonnino. Ludwig I bought the painting in 1841, it is now in the Neue Pinakothek.

You can get a huge digital version here.

In 1886, the Romanian artist Emanoil Panaiteanu Bardasare made a sort of copy of this painting.

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