Kathleen Huddle


The theme of Judith and Holofernes, which is from the Old Testament, has been depicted throughout the history of art. In my view, the most impressive and strongest depiction of Judith and Holofernes, which was rendered with great efficacy, was by the seventeenth-century Italian painter, Artemisia Gentleshi (1597-1651). The story of the heroine Judith is inspiring because Judith is a symbol of a strong, intelligent, cunning and brave woman.

According the the apocryphal tale, the Israelites were under attack by the murderous Assyrian general, Holofernes. Judith, a handsome widow and her maidservant, Abra, successfully carried out a daring plan to save their beseiged town of Bethulia. Judith and Abra knowingly crossed the enemy lines and were taken to the tent of Holofernes where Judith enticed the general to drink so much wine that he became unconscious. In an audacious and fearless act, Judith beheaded Holofernes with his own sword. Then, Judith and Abra had to re-cross the enemy lines with the head of the Assyrian general in a basket. They placed the head of Holofernes on the city gate and when the Assyrian army saw the severed head of their general they fled in terror.

judith and holofernesI decided to paint a parody of Gentleschi's painting depicting Judith and Holofernes using a modern-day Judith. In thinking who would symbolize a strong, tenacious, intelligent, courageous woman, I thought of Hillary Clinton. When I began my painting, which is a pro-Hillary work, Alfonz D'Mato was in the news for bad-mouthing Hillary Clinton regarding the White Water deal. He was so obnoxious--really--I had to place his head in the basket, especially when he said, "I'm no Hillary Clinton." Later, I realized there were a slew of Republican heads that belonged in the basket, so, instead of repainting the canvas several times, I added an actual basket at the bottom of the painting to hold the heads.

Next, came Kenneth Starr--he behaved so badly when he wasted untold amounts of the taxpayer's money on his silly trial. Then, Rick Lazio ran against Hillary for Senator of New York state and someone mal-advised him to leave his podium during a debate, stand in Hillary's space, wag his finger and demand an answer from her, which, of course, lost the election for him. Along came Newt Gingrich, who was in the news daily as he tried to elevate his position of Weaker . . .er , I mean. Speaker of the House to rock star-status. It's kind of difficult to take a man serious when he's named after a small reptile. His head was so big, it hardly fit in the basket. Rudy Giuliani ran briefly against HIllary in the senatorial race but had to drop out for health reasons, but I knew he'd run against Hillary in the future, so his head tumbled into the basket.

The way I see it, the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes is emblematic of women's triumph over male domination.


oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

"Newt's Last Judgment--But This Is Not Newt Gingrich, So Don't Think It Is Because It's Not" is a parody of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, in which he painted a caricature of Biago da Cesena, a man who made Michaelangelo's blood boil because he'd criticized the famous masterpiece, The Last Judgment. Michelangelo painted Biago in Hell with a giant serpent wound around him about to strike a delicate part of hls anatomy. Also Biago was depicted with ears of an ass. (I didn't paint the ears of an ass on the character who looks so remarkably like Newt Gingrich because I didn't want to insult the jackasses of the world.)

Newt Gingrich made my blood boil when he spearheaded the spoil brat-movement to shut down the Federal government in 1996. During the shut-down my daughter, Kate, was in the process of applying for a passport and visa so that she could study in Italy. Kate came within one day of missing out on her trip to Italy due to the closed government offices. I was not about to stand by idly while some intellectual eunuch played political chess with my daughter's education.

Newt's cockamamie idea of a Republican "revolution" dictated that the Republicans would shut down the Federal government in order to balance the budget, I didn't need special brain cells to see, clearly, that hyperactive Newt out-maneuvered himself because he misjudged President Bill Clinton. The president would not back down or be held political hostage by a revolutionary manic who threw tantrums like a two-year-old. The Republicans could have signed a clean, simple bill that would have kept the government open, but they chose not to do that. Instead, they chose to attach to the bill conditions that they knew President Bill Clinton could not accept.

Newt Gingrich--who was in the news almost daily during that time trying to elevate his position as Weaker of the House . . . er, I mean, Speaker of the House to rock star-status--upset me further when he made an asinine remark that female soldiers couldn't stay in a foxhole longer than 30 days. (I suppose if Newt had his way all women would be banished to menstrual huts on the outskirt of the village.)

As if that weren't enough, Newt, a pathetic, presidential wanna-be, who was impressed with the sound of his own voice, and who trembled under the enormous weight of his ego, voted to kill the National Endowment of the Arts! ("There is no place in the Constitution that says the taxpayers must subsidize the weirdest thing that you can imagine." Gingrich) After Newt--who must be named after a small reptile--voted to kill the NEA, I drew his gasbag-mug on wanted posters, which read" "WANTED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE NEA", and posted them all over my town. Joseph Çampbell, the mythologist and scholar, had written, "To live in a society without the Arts is to live in a Wasteland."

Biago was the laughing stock of Rome. Michelangelo had burnished his anger to a high gloss and he taught me as if I were his apprentice. What I love about Michelangelo is that he didn't get mad; he got even!

©2013 Kathleen Huddle, Huddle Art Studio. All rights reserved.

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