Felice Capodanno. That's Italian for Happy New Year, literally Happy Head of the Year. After today there will be 19 days until the Orange Beast leaves or is removed from office. What better way is there to express the ending of a bad year and a bad presidency than by showing images of Judith beheading Holofernes. Of course I hope we have a peaceful and bloodless transition on both counts. However, until President Biden and Vice President Harris take charge, I'm satisfying myself vicariously with the story of Judith and Holofernes. As you know from art history, or perhaps the Bible, Judith is the Old Testament heroine who stopped King Nebuchadnezzar's general from attacking Palestine. Slipping into Holofernes's tent, she seduced him with her beauty, plied him with drink, and then—when he was in a drunken stupor—cut off his head with his own sword. She returned to her people with his head in a bag. Without their leader, the Assyrian forces were defeated by the Jews.
Master of Jean de Mandeville, Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1360-70; tempera, gold and ink on parchment, 13.75 x 10.25 inches; J. Paul Getty Museum
Giorgione, Judith, 1504, oil on panel, 57 x 26 inches; Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1530, oil on linen; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Peter Paul Rubens, Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1609-10, pen and brown ink, app. 9 x 6.25 inches; Stadel Museum, Frankfurt
Johan Liss, Judith in the Tent of Holofernes, ca. 1652, oil on canvas, app. 50.75 x 39 inches; National Gallery, London
Cristofano Allori, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1631, oil on canvas, app. 47 x 39 inches; Royal Collection, London
Maker unknown, England, Judith and Holofernes, mid1600s; needle lace of linen, silk, and human hair; Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Australia