The great Italian Renaissance artist, Sandro Botticelli, is the author of many of the greatest works that have become the property of world culture, among which is the canvas entitled “The Return of Judith” written between 1472 and 1473.
Judith is a biblical character, a widow girl, who, according to legend, saved the inhabitants of the city of Vetulia from enslaving the troops of the Assyrian king Holofernes. The legend says that the Assyrian king was extremely cruel and lascivious, hundreds of beautiful women visited his harem, and thousands more were threatened with the same fate, he planned to destroy the defenders of the besieged city and take him by force. But among the women who lived in Vetulia there was a brave young widow named Judith, ready to sacrifice her honor and life for the common good.
Judith requires the elders to refuse the tsar to surrender voluntarily, and she dresses as a woman of easy virtue - a courtesan and goes to the camp of the enemy. A beautiful Jewess immediately attracts the eyes of the king, who demands her to him. At night, when the king fell asleep, Judith took a sharp sword and chopped off his head, after which she freely passed the sleeping soldiers and returned to her city.
It is the scene of Judith’s return that the artist’s brush draws, the painting depicts Judith herself, as well as her maid. The girl holds a huge sword in her hand, her face is thoughtful and even sad, her feet are bare, but she is decisive to strive home. The maid barely keeps up with the quick step of the young widow, holding the basket in which the king’s head rests. In the background, paintings can be seen at home and buildings, yet the rest of the space is occupied by a clear morning sky.
Judith becomes a favorite heroine of many Renaissance artists, such close attention to this girl is connected not only with her heroic behavior, but also with a gradual perception of the image of Judith as erotic and seductive. But Botticelli still prefers a heroic moment in Judith’s life, making her a symbol of endless courage and determination.
Painting The Drowned Woman