1 week, 6 days ago

Women and beheading, there are many famous paintings in this metaphor series. 

A picture, if there is a woman carrying a severed, bloody man's head, do you think it's scary. What do you think, this kind of picture will only appear in horror movies and comic books? 

However, what about the fusion of this painting and classical oil painting? 




Today, I'd like to elaborate on the specific allusion of "women's beheading painting" and why many masterpieces are produced on this subject. 

In fact, some paintings seem to put a woman and a man's head together, but "this head is not the other head", and the characters represented by the two women are not the same. 

They come from different allusions

But to explain it clearly, we need to start with these two stories. 

 1. Salome and head 

Salome danced so lightly that Herod had to cut off the head of the Saint John and give it to Salome. 

This story comes from the New Testament Chapter 14 of Matthew. 

It was said that Herod had married Herodias, his brother's wife. This incident reached the ears of the Saint John, who had a noble and upright personality. Therefore, it was a bad act to rebuke Herod and Herodias for their actions against the law of Moses. 

This event made Herod and his queen Herodias take revenge. Herod caught John and locked him in the cell. But because John was loved by the people, Herod could not kill him, so he had to keep it. Then, at Herod's birthday party, Salome, Herodias's daughter, came out to dance. The dance was very beautiful, which fascinated all the people present. Therefore, Herod said that he was willing to meet Salome's one wish, any wish. 

Confused Salome asked her mother what she wanted to fulfill. Herodias took the opportunity to instigate the head of John the saint. 

So the head of the Saint John was cut off and put on a plate for Salome. 

This is the allusion of "woman and head". 

We can see that the painter will try to keep the core of the story. If the woman in the painting is Salome, she is a beautiful and charming young girl. 




Through these core elements, we can quickly distinguish that this is Caravaggio's first painting of beheading, which depicts the story of Salome. 


 2. Judith and the head 

Judith's story is quite different from Salome's. 

It comes from the Bible Judith. 

Judith is a Jew. Her hometown Israel was invaded by Assyria. Although the Jew bravely resisted and vowed to die, they were faced with the crisis of starvation because the Assyrian army surrounded the city. 

This is Judith standing up and telling everyone to stick to faith and believe that the Lord will care for his followers. But he took his maid and dived into the enemy's position. At this time, the Assyrian general in charge of the siege was called Holofernes. He was attracted by Judith's beauty and actively approached her. In this way, Judith gained the trust of Holofernes. At last, at night, while Holofernes was sleeping, he cut off his head. 

Judith succeeded in avenging his people and saving Israel. 

This is the story of "women beheading". 

First of all, Judith took the initiative to cut off the head of herofunis, so the woman in the picture usually holds the knife or sword for cutting the head and holds the head of the other person. 


At last, Judith was regarded as a national hero by the Jews. Her "beauty plan" and bravery saved Israel at that time. Therefore, helofennes, the old unlucky man who was beheaded in the picture, often had a distorted face, reflecting his pain before death. Judith had a calm face, full of heroic spirit. 




So, why are these two themes so popular with painters? 

This, of course, had a lot to do with the subject matter of painting at that time. 

 3. When beheading becomes a hot topic 

Before the Renaissance, in medieval Europe, there was no culture. 

They are controlled by religion and are not allowed to learn knowledge beyond religion. Although basic arithmetic and law are slightly popular, most people only recognize the stories and images in the Bible. 

Therefore, when a painter wants to draw and he is not good at other subjects, he will naturally choose what he is best at, that is, religion. 

That's why even in the Renaissance, religious painting is still the most popular theme. Everyone is used to painting, and employers are also used to ordering. When the family doesn't know what to hang for decoration, it's right to point out a few biblical stories, let alone the traditional order of that era: Church murals. 

Church, it's natural to draw biblical stories. 

 The pictures are full of biblical figures. Similarly, we can't underestimate the ancient religion's control over people's thoughts. Christianity believes that all carnal desires, killing and bloody things are evil. He forbids people to pursue their normal desires, and forces them to maintain their own poverty, incorruptibility, ideological sanctity and abstinence. 

But people are emotional animals after all, they will want to get sensory stimulation, they will want to see attractive pictures, which is a very natural desire, but also human nature. 

 and the only result that binds humanity is to let people break it! 

So, people came up with a way to make religious space:

Well, you don't allow me to see beauties. Do you want me to draw religious beauties? 

So who are the religious beauties? The first one is the Virgin Mary. 


In this way, you can show your religious piety and appreciate the beauty of women.


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