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Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Details
Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
oil on canvas
32 3/8 x 26 ¼ in. (82.3 x 66.6 cm.)

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Lot Essay

Fede Galizia was a precocious talent, famed in her lifetime as a portraitist and history painter, and renowned as an innovator of still life painting in Italy. This fine canvas is an early work, dated to the 1590s, when Galizia was in contact with Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Ambrogio Figino. It was Arcimboldo in fact who recommended her to Rudolph II, promoting Galizia’s name beyond key Milanese patrons to the court in Prague.
She would return to the subject of Judith and Holofernes in the composition of circa 1596, which is known in different versions, including those in the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, the Galleria Borghese, Rome, the Palacio Real de la Granja de San Ildefonso and a private collection. The features of Judith here bear a resemblance to the artist herself, while the delicate handling of the pearls and the draperies bears witness to the same skill that would mark out her nature morte.
This picture will be published in a forthcoming issue of Arte Lombarda, and has been requested to be included in an exhibition, Fede Galizia e i suoi anni, planned to be held at the Museo Diocesano in Milan in spring 2020. We are grateful to Professor Filippo Maria Ferro for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs, and for his kind assistance in compiling this catalogue entry.

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