The Story of Judith and Holofernes by Gustav Klimt

Listen to the Story: 11 minutes

Audio-only: (best on mobile)


This is Judith, the Biblical heroine who saved the day by seducing and then decapitating Holofernes, the general of the enemy army that besieged her city. Often we see her in the act of cutting off the head, an image made popular by Caravaggio who painted it as violent and bloody as he could. Gustav Klimt took a very different approach. He made Judith a real femme fatale. After the murder she has neglected to get dressed, and even while holding a human head seems aroused. She is seductive even after the deed is done. That makes this a strange and fascinating painting to me. So that is why in this video I’ll explain just what makes this painting so interesting.