Judith, 1895
Charles Landelle (1821-1908)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 01244
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum


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Judith is described in the Bible as a rich, beautiful widow who saved her town of Bethulia from the Assyrian army. She seduced the Assyrian General, Holofernes in his tent and when he collapsed from drink, beheaded him while he slept.

‘Then she came to the pillar of the bed, which was at Holofernes’ head… And approached to his bed, and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, this day. And she smote him twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head from him’. (Judith, 13:6-8)

Landelle shows Judith drawing back the bed’s curtain, clasping the sword about to decapitate the general.  Judith was a popular subject for artists because of her strength and beauty.

Merton bought the painting and held it in high esteem, hanging it in a prominent position in the entrance hall.

Charles Landelle was a French artist who initially painted sacred subjects in an academic manner and carried out many decorative schemes in Parisian churches.  He travelled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa where he researched his biblical works as well as capturing contemporary life. He produced many paintings of beautiful women. With the introduction of oriental subject matter, Landelle was to achieve his greatest popularity. In 1855 he was awarded the Legion of Honour.


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