Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1570

  • Titian, Italian, ca.1488-1576

Oil on canvas

  • 54 1/2 × 48 × 3 3/4 inches (138.4 × 121.9 × 9.5 cm) Unframed: 44 3/8 × 37 3/8 × 7/8 inches (112.7 × 94.9 × 2.2 cm)

Gift of Edsel B. Ford


On View

  • European: Medieval and Renaissance W233


European Painting

Judith was a biblical Jewish heroine who used her beauty to seduce, then decapitate, the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army, Holofernes, and thus save her people. The book of Judith is included in the Old Testament Apocrypha. Executed in the last decade of the artist's long life, this interpretation of Judith's story shows Titian's extraordinary freedom of style. Not only has the artist altered the traditional iconography of the subject by replacing the old woman attendant with a black page, but the lower part of the picture displays the loose and broken brushstrokes typical of Titian's late pictures. While the contrast between the expressionist face of the giant and the smooth texture of Judith's is jarring, it also reinforces the disparity between the heroine and her conquest, as if femininity has won over roughness and violence.

by 1677, collection of Marchese Carlo Gerini [1616-73] (Palazzo, Gerini, Florence, Italy)

1759, Marchese Andrea Gerini [1691-1766] (Palazzo, Gerini, Florence, Italy)

1825, Marchese Giovanni Gerini [1770–1825] (Palazzo, Gerini, Florence, Italy)

December 1, 1825, auction, no. 272, Collection Gerini (Florence, Italy). 1829, collection of John Rodwell (London, England). by 1915, collection of Colonel William Cornwallis West [1835-1917] (Ruthin Castle, Denbighshire, Wales and Newlands Manor, Hampshire, England)

1917, by decent to his son Major George Cornwallis-West [1874-1951]

July 11, 1919, (Christie's, London, England) auction Major Cornwallis-West, no. 75. 1923-1928, (A. L. Nicholson, London, England). 1935, (Dr. Siegfried Aram, New York, New York, USA)

1935, purchased by Edsel Bryant Ford [1893-1943] as a gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

1935-present, found in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

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The New York Times 84, no. 28,204 (April 14, 1935): section 2, p. N, 4 (ill.). Tietze, Hans. Tizian: Leben und Werk. Vienna, 1936, vol 1: p. 270; vol. 2: p. 286, no. 275 (ill.). Tietze, H. Titian: Paintings and Drawings. Vienna, 1937, p. 320, no. 275. McCall, George Henry. Catalogue of European Painting and Sculpture from 1300–1800. Exh. cat., New York World's Fair. New York, 1939, pp. 189, cat. 388 (ill.). Valentiner, William R. and Alfred M. Frankfurther. Masterpieces of Art: Exhibition at the New York World's Fair 1939, Official Souvenir Guide and Picture Book. Exh. cat., New York World's Fair. New York, 1939, unpaginated, no. 388. Richardson, E.P., ed. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Catalogue of Paintings. Detroit, 1944, p. 134, no. 770. Whitcomb, Edgar B. et. al. "The Arts Commission Annual Report for the Year 1947: Care of the Collections." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 26, no. 2 (1947): p. 35. [surface polished] Richardson, Edgar Preston, ed. Masterpieces of Painting and Sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1949, p. 66 (ill.). Tietze, Hans. Tizian: Gemälde und Zeichnungen, 2nd ed. London, 1950, pp. 370–371. Tietze, Hans. Titian: The Paintings and Drawings. London, 1950, pp. 368–369. Trevisan, L. Giorgione, vol. 1. Venice, 1950, p. 590, pl. 399 (ill.). Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Tiziano, vol. 2, Lezioni tenute alla facoltà di lettere dell'Università di Bologna durante gli anni 1953–54, ed. Ornella Fanti. Bologna, 1954, pp. 122–123. Dell'Aqua, Gian Alberto. Tiziano. Milan, 1955, p. 132, pl. 184 (ill.). Gnau, Arthur. Diabolus in Musica. Detroit, 1955, p. 53 (ill.). Religious Painting 15th-19th Century. Brooklyn, 1956, unpaginated, cat. 7 (ill.). Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: The Venetian School, vol. 1. London, 1957, p. 184. [Italian ed., 1958] Titian, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Toronto. Toronto, 1960, cat. 5 (ill.). Valconover, Francesco. Tutta la pittura di Tiziano, vol. 2. Milan, 1960, pp. 48, 75, pl. 117. Grigaut, Paul L, ed. Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts, 2nd ed. Detroit, 1963, p. 84 (ill.). Greenleaf, William. From These Beginnings: the early philanthropies of Henry and Edsel Ford, 1911–1936. Detroit, 1964, p. 163. Valcanover, Francesco. All the Paintings of Titian, Part 4 (1546–1576), translated by Sylvia J. Tomalin. London, 1965, p. 63, pl. 117 (ill.). Paintings in the Detroit Institute of Arts: A Checklist of the Paintings Acquired before June, 1965. Detroit, 1965, p. 108. Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts, 3rd ed. Detroit, 1966, p. 88 (ill.). Morassi, Antonio. "Una Salomé di Tiziano riscoperta." Pantheon 26 (1968): pp. 456, 465, fig. 9 (ill.). Reid, David. "The True Judith." Art Journal 28, no. 4 (Summer 1969): 376–387, p. 381. Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Tiziano. Florence, 1969, vol. 1: p. 318; vol. 2: pls. 487, 490 (ill.). Wethey, Harold E. The Paintings of Titian Complete Edition. Vol. 1: The Religious Paintings. London, 1969, p. 95, no. 44, pl. 193 (ill.). Valcanover, Francesco. L'opera completa di Tiziano. Milan, 1969, p. 132, no. 452 (ill.). Fredericksen, Burton B. and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, 1972, pp. 202, 266, 579. Sterne, Margaret. The Passionate Eye. The Life of William R. Valentiner. Detroit, 1980, p. 234. Peck, William H. 100 Masterworks from the DIA. New York, 1985, pp. 14–15, fig. 6 (ill.). Titian: Prince of Painters. Exh. cat., National Gallery, Washington D.C. and Palazzo Ducale, Venice. Washington, 1990, p. 352, cat. 69 (ill.). [also see Italian language edition] Fletcher, Jennifer. "Exhibition Review: Venice and Washington." The Burlington Magazine 132, no. 1051 (October 1990): 740–744, p. 743 (ill.). Ciletti, Elena. "Patriarchal Ideology in the Renaissance Iconography of Judith" in Refiguring Woman: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance, eds. Marilyn Migiel and Juliana Schiesari. Ithaca, 1991, p. 50, note 23. Polleross, Friedrich. "Between Typology and Psychology: The Role of the Identification Portrait in Updating Old Testament Representations." Artibus et Historiae 12, no. 24 (1991): 75–117, p. 111. Joannides, Paul. "Titian's Judith and Its Context: The Iconography of Decapitation." Apollo 135, no. 361 (March 1992), p. 170, note 23. Erickson, Peter. "Representations of Blacks and Blackness in the Renaissance." Criticism 35, no. 4 (Fall 1993): pp. 506, 522. Le Siècle de Titien. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1993, p. 676, cat. 260 (ill.). Henshaw, Julia, ed. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 179 (ill.). Roberts, Helene, ed. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: vol. 1. Chicago, 1998, p. 318. Rosenauer, A. "Zu einem von Tizian ubermalten Porträt Kaiser Karls V." Römische Historische Mitteilungen 41. Vienna, 1999, pp. 311–321, figs. 1, 2, 7 (ill.). Valcanover, Francesco. 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Milan, 2006, pp. 216–217, cat. 60 (ill.). Gentili, Augusto. "Problemi dell’ultimo Tiziano: finite e non finite tra variazioni e perdite di senso." In Tiziano L’ultimo atto, ed. Lionello Puppi, 135–143. Milan, 2007, pp. 139–140, fig. 8 (color ill.). Humfrey, Peter. Titian: The Complete Paintings. New York, 2007, pp. 329, 356, no. 282 (ill.). Sohm, Philip. The Artist Grows Old: The Aging of Art and Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. New Haven and London, 2007, p. 188 no. 33 (ill.). Phillips, Sir Claude. Titian. New York, 2008, pp. 278–279 (ill.). [not included in Phillips 1898, also see 2016 edition] Important Old Master Paintings. Sales cat., Sotheby’s, New York, January 29, 2009, p. 94, fig. 3 (ill.). [Comparative illustration for "Salome with the Head of the Baptist" by Titian, Auction no. 8516, cat. 33] Cranston, Jodi. The Muddied Mirror: materiality and figuration in Titian’s later paintings. University Park, 2010, pp. viii, pl.13, (ill.). Kabat, Jennifer. "Stealing Beauty: Assessing the Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts." The Weeklings (August 8, 2013): https://theweeklings.com/jkabat/2013/08/08/stealing–beauty–assessing–the–collection–at–the–detroit–institute–of–arts/ (accessed April 1, 2019) Ingendaay Rodio, Martina. "I Migliori Pennelli," I Marchesi Gerini Mecenati E Collezionisti Nella Firenze Barocca: Il Palazzo e la Galleria 1600–1825, Parte 1. Milan, 2013, pp. 299, 342, 145, 164, cat. 22, fig. 178, pl. 54, no. 9. Humfrey, Peter. "The Chronology of Titian’s versions of the Venus with a Mirror and the lost Venus for the Emperor Charles V" In Artistic Practices and Cultural Transfer in Early Modern Italy, eds. Nebahat Avcioğlu and Allison Sherman. Surrey, 2015, p. 229. Hodges, Michael. "European Group Awards DIA $25,000 to Restore Painting." The Detroit News (January 13, 2017): https://www.detroitnews.com/story/entertainment/arts/2017/01/13/dia–wins–conservation–grant/96504152/ (accessed April 2, 2019) Joannides, Paul. "Severed Heads and Shifting Identities: Titian's Paintings of Judith, or Salome, or Herodias" In Nemesis: Titian’s Fatal Women. Dalton, Massachusetts, 2018, pp. 18, 28, 29 note 3 (ill.).

Titian, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1570, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Edsel B. Ford, 35.10.