Judith at the banquet of Holofernes
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Inventory number
P02132
Author
Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn
Title
Judith at the banquet of Holofernes
Chronology
1634
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimensions
143 cm x 154,7 cm x 2,5 cm
School
Dutch
Theme
Religion
On display
Yes
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Marques de la Ensenada, Madrid, 1768; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “paso de tribuna y trascuartos”, 1772, s. n.; New Royal Palace, “pieza de tocador”, 1794, s. n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “antecámara de la reina”, 1814-1818, s.n.).

In the past, the attribution of this painting to Rembrandt was received with skepticism by a number of authors. However, it was accepted as an original work of the painter by the Rembrandt Research Project´s Corpus (1986), reaffirming the technical research carried out in the same year by the Prado Museum.

Concerning the signature itself, its lack of a steady handwriting and, especially, the somewhat yellow color, makes it doubtful. But on the other hand, “Rembrandt” orthography appears in several paintings dated in 1633, in some engravings between 1632-1633, and in the painter´s earliest signed documents. In addition, the recorded date of the painting corresponds exactly to the artistic qualities Rembrandt deployed at the time.

This painting´s scene is part of a small group of allegories embodies in “heroic females”, or in other words, goddesses or heroines from Antiquity and Old Testament Rembrandt painted between 1633-1635.

The imposing female figure stands out against the darkness of the background. She is magnificent dressed up in a buffed, long-sleeve embroidered gown, a white silk doublet with golden braids at hems and clasps, and large ermine collar adorned with a golden chain inlaid with rubies and sapphires. She wears a bracelet, pearls double string necklace and earrings.

Her hair has been let down on the shoulders and is embellished with a string of pearls and golden chain. A young servant kneels down before her, turning her back to the observer and keeping her profile at distance; she is offering wine –or at least, a pinky liquid– in a nautilus shell coup on golden pedestal. They are life-size, three-quarter represented figures. The background is darkened and largely vanished. At present, just the figure of an elderly servant is clearly visible between the seated lady and the young servant holding the coup; she covers her head with a white wimple and with both hands holds a fabric with a cord in the left side. To the right, behind the seated lady, the falling of a dark red curtain is still visible. She covers her head with a white wimple and with both hands holds a white cloth with cord hanging.

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