Judith Slaying Holofernes Painting

who was artemisia gentileschi?

She was accepted into the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno as the first woman, and had various commissions in her lifetime from significant figures.

historical overview

The subject of the painting relates to the traumatic event that Gentileschi experienced, and some sources have stated that Judith as the main protagonist is a self-portrait of the artist herself.

formal analysis of the artwork

subject matter

The scene is set and we, the viewers, become part of the moment just before Judith and her slave woman behead the Assyrian general Holofernes. Judith slices the sword through his neck without a wince.


Artemisia Gentileschi was influenced by the artist Caravaggio and how he utilized color, especially the technique of chiaroscuro, which focuses on contrasts of dark and light.


There are various implied textures in Judith Slaying Holofernes, such as the velvet texture of the red blanket over Holofernes as well as part of the bed sheets that appear to be velvet too.


There is a dominance of diagonal lines created by the figures’ outstretched arms as well as Holofernes’s lifted right knee. These lines are referred to as “directional lines”, which lead our gaze to the focal point of Judith.

shape & form

Artemisia Gentileschi’s composition consists mainly of organic shapes and forms, namely the natural curves and lines visible from the figures’ body shapes as well as the bedding.


Gentileschi highlights the dramatism of Judith beheading Holofernes by placing the figures directly in front of us, the viewers. The dark background serves almost like a backdrop effect.