MENU
Ca' Pesaro
Gustav Klimt
(Baumgarten, 1862 – Vienna, 1918)
Judith II (Salomè)
1909
oil on canvas
176 × 46 cm
Art description

At the 9th Venice Biennale, in 1910, the master of the Viennese Secession Gustav Klimt

presented a personal room with 22 works. The committee in charge of acquisitions for

Ca' Pesaro purchases Judith II for the sum of 9,900 lire; the work will become an icon

and symbol of the Museum's collection.

Preceded by a 1901 version, Judith I, held in Vienna, the Ca' Pesaro masterpiece

represents the heroine of the Israelite people who, to save the city of Betulia from the

siege and prevent the invasion of Judea, beheads Holofernes, a general of

Nabucodonosor, king of the Assyrians. Judith is depicted in the act of extracting the

head of Holofernes from the saddlebag to show it to the besieged Betulians. For a long

time the subject was confused with the character of Salomé, protagonist of the killing of

 

John the Baptist, despite the iconographic differences that differentiate the two biblical

episodes.

The notable decrease of the golden component in Judith II compared to the works of

Klimt's golden period, symbolize the passage to a new style; here the biblical heroine is

a modern, sensual and tragic woman, dressed with arabesques and geometric marks,

while the vertical aspect of the representation is accentuated by two flat lateral frames in

gilded wood.