Salome and Judith

    Salome was the daughter of Herodias.  She must have been beautiful, because when she danced for Herod and his guests at his birthday party, Herod was so bewitched by her that he promised to give her anything she wanted.  At her mother’s instruction, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist.  Herod regretted his decision, but honor forced him to keep his oath, and he sent his executioner to dispatch John the Baptist, whose head was subsequently delivered to Salome on a plate. 

Lucas Cranach the Elder c. 1530  WOW LOOK AT HER CLOTHES!

Salome by Henri Regnault c. 1870
I always make sure to see this one at the Met!

Salome With the Head of Saint John the Baptist c. 1680 by Marinari
Salome Dancing c. 1906 by Franz von Stuch

     Judith was a beautiful and resourceful Jewish widow.  Her country was under attack from the Assyrians, whose military was led by the general Holofernes.  Judith and her loyal maid went to see Holofernes in his army camp, offering her service as a spy (she must have been a powerful and politically-connected woman if she had any knowledge useful enough to interest him).  She seduced him and gained his trust, got him drunk, and then cut off his head. Judith brought his head back to her people to inspire them.  The Assyrians freaked out and ran back home where they belonged. 

      Judith did what Eva Braun should have done if she cared about her country. 

    I love the story of Judith!  I wish that her maid had a name, though, because she was brave, too. 

Judith Victorious c. 1530 by Lucas Cranach the Elder
I love this painting!  She looks smug and I like her armored gauntlets and her badass coat!  She could totally be a domme.
Judith by Franz von Stuck
Sleep it off, sucker!
The Return of Judith to Bethulia by Bottecelli
Judith with the Head of Holofernes  by Peter Paul Rubens

And here is a picture of a greyhound I like, just because.  FYI, it looks like a pencil drawing, but it’s actually painting with very fine brush strokes!

Greyhound by Druer

    I really want to post this video but I have no idea what to do with it so I’m just going to put it here.  

     Back when I accepted that I was an alcoholic, I tackled the medical and scientific literature about it.  I distinctly remember a study where researchers offered unlimited rum to Rhesus monkeys.  Rhesus monkeys were chosen because they have complex social and familial structures.  

Anyway, most monkeys tried it and didn’t like it and never drank it again.  Some monkeys just had a few.

And some monkeys fell in love and became alcoholic monkeys.  They fucked themselves and dropped out of life.  Not unlike myself. 

7 thoughts on “Salome and Judith”

  1. Interesting theme and choice of paintings.

    Since we may assume that these paintings were predominantly commissioned, bought, and looked at by men, what does that tell us about the male gaze and the way it sees women?

    Pretty obviously, all these works of art exhibit female sexuality to male contemplation. In fact we see female sexuality triumphant. But the resulting titillation is accompanied by a secret terror – the fear that in the sexual act, a man becomes totally vulnerable, and that all sorts of nasty stuff may ensue.

    This tension between the desire for surrender to ecstasy and the very real fear of the terrifying consequences of being ‘unmanned’ is possibly part of the reason for some men’s rage against women.

    Just a thought.

    1. My art history professor taught us, when critiquing any work of art, to consider its intended audience. I agree with most of your analysis.

      All of the paintings are sexy (I especially like the way Judith is looking out at the viewer in the Rubens. And one could make an argument that the sword is a phallic symbol). There’s also the perennially popular conflation of sex and death.

      But how a man could feel vulnerable in the sex act completely eludes me. I can understand a man feeling vulnerable in lust or love, like unrequited love…but sex? The woman is the one who is infinitely more vulnerable.

      Thanks for commenting. Am still working on the email.

      1. Miss Margo

        How could a man feel vulnerable in the sex act? This is complicated because its hard to separate fantasy from reality. As an extremely sexually submissive male I see women as the ones with the power. I know this goes against convention as for the most part men are physically stronger than women and in reality most sexual violence is male on female. Still I’ve always felt as a male I am the one that has to perform and satisfy the woman and I prefer to be on the bottom with a powerful female on top. It’s not so much physical vulnerability as emotional or psychological vulnerability. I don’t feel like I’m getting across what I’m feeling but I’m just trying to explain how a man can feel vulnerable during sex. Does this make any sense to you?


    1. Thanks for the compliments, Sasha! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I was unfamiliar with the Strauss opera, but since you recommended it I’ve been watching the YouTube video. Love the score, so thank you for that!



  2. Dear Miss Margo,

    Love the paintings, and the stories of Salome and Judith. Another favorite is Jael. In Judges 4:21 she drives a tent spike through the skull of the Canaanite general Sisera right into the ground. There are a few paintings of this, but for some reason it is nowhere near as popular as Judith. I always found the story chilling, I think because the manner of death is so strange.


    1. Hi John!

      I knew about Deborah, but not Jael. I just googled her and read the story. It is pretty gruesome! The tent peg seems odd, but I guess it would have been common household equipment back then?

      I think that the story isn’t as popular because it’s not as sexy as the others. Sisera was a coward for running away from his men and he got what he deserved. Jael was just being practical to do it when he was asleep. I wouldn’t be surprised if putting down the tent was woman’s work, and she chose the tent peg and hammer because she was so familiar with the tools.

      The image is kinda gross. Blood must have gone everywhere.

      Thanks for reading

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