The return of Judith - Sandro Botticelli. 24 x 31 cm
The Old Testament character Judith is a story about courage, self-sacrifice and the willingness to sacrifice honor in the name of saving others. This heroine became especially popular during the Renaissance, because she met all the aesthetic and plot canons of that time, uniting biblical affiliation on the one hand and eroticism on the other. Sandro Botticelli devoted several works to the legendary Judith.
The story of the girl’s feat is as follows: when the Assyrians approached the hometown of Judith’s widow, she decided to save the inhabitants from the monstrous king Holofernes and his soldiers. They said that Holofernes was cruel and lustful, and the inhabitants of the besieged city were threatened with becoming concubines in his harem. Judith, asking permission from the elders of the city, dressed up in revealing clothes and went into the camp of the enemy to attract the attention of the leader. The beautiful Jewess immediately liked Holofernes, and at night, waiting for him to fall asleep, Judith chopped off the Assyrian’s head and returned to her hometown, passing the sleeping guards.
It was the moment of returning home that Botticelli portrayed. The girl resolutely and quickly moves to the halls of her native city. Her legs are bare and a heavy sword in her hands. Judith's eyes and expression are thoughtful and sad. Behind her, barely keeping up, the maid follows. On her head is a basket with a terrible trophy - the head of the murdered king-commander.
Judith is the winner, but Botticelli depicted her by no means a heroine without fear and reproach. This is a thin, fragile girl, whose hair and dress are blowing a breeze. It seems you can feel how Judith rushes with light, weightless steps to convey the good news to the townspeople - having been without a king, the Assyrians fled in panic. In the hand of the young widow, you can notice a fragile (like herself) olive branch, a symbol of victory.
The background on which the author turned his story is intended to emphasize the general mood of the work. Some buildings and houses are visible in the distance, but the main part is occupied by a cloudless, blue sky, which fills the picture with air and light. One cannot but admit that the heroine in the picture of the painter is beautiful and sweet. But the artist did not portray Judith as a seductress or, conversely, a warrior - this was the innovation of Botticelli's interpretation. Rather, she is decisive and courageous, but at the same time fragile and tender.