Skip to main content

Johann Liss, Judith in the Tent of Holofernes

Key facts
Full title Judith in the Tent of Holofernes
Artist Johann Liss
Artist dates about 1595 - 1631
Date made about 1622
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 128.5 × 99 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by John Archibald Watt Dollar, 1931
Inventory number NG4597
Location Room 32
Collection Main Collection
Judith in the Tent of Holofernes
Johann Liss

When her hometown of Bethulia was besieged by Assyrian forces, Judith infiltrated the enemy camp. She gained entry to the tent of the Assyrian general Holofernes, and when he was drunk after a banquet she seized his sword and cut off his head.

Here she places Holofernes‘ head into a sack held open by her maid. Her gaze is steely and resolute as she turns to look at the viewer, but her cheeks are flushed, her skin shiny with sweat and her fleshy lips glossy. Meanwhile, it’s impossible to avoid the streams of blood gushing from Holofernes’ mutilated neck.

The drama of the composition, the powerful gestures and the use of strong contrasts of light and shade are typical of the Baroque period and particularly reflect the work of the Italian painter Caravaggio, whose paintings Liss must have seen while he was in Rome in the 1620s.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo