Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes

Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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The beautiful biblical heroine Judith saved the Israelites from conquest by Assyria. She stole into the tent of the Assyrian general Holofernes during the night and decapitated him. Here, she passes the head to her maid. In contrast to the horrors depicted by seventeenth-century artists, Pellegrini hides the body in the shadows, and, instead, he concentrates on Judith who looks directly at us, courting our acclaim. The lively brushwork and vibrant colour combinations also create a very different mood from earlier representations. The Venetian artist Pellegrini worked in England between 1708 and 1713, where this picture was probably painted.

Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes




oil on canvas


H 124.7 x W 102 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased, 1974

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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