May 23- October 11, 2009
The visual consumption of woman has for centuries been at the cornerstone of art. This fascination—or even obsession—with women of all descriptions is perhaps nowhere more apparent than during the 16th and 17th centuries. During this period, images of the exotically (and oftentimes meagerly) clad Biblical temptresses, Judith and Salome, played an important role in visual culture. Images of the Virgin Mary aside, there were no women painted with greater frequency and creativity than Judith and Salome. In fact, as you will see, many of the compositions in this exhibition were so popular that artists repeated them frequently.
It can, however, be easy to confuse these two “femme fatales,” owing to similarities in their stories. Both women seduced and then beheaded or caused the beheading of men of prominence—Judith executed the evil Assyrian general Holofernes, and Salome was responsible for the death of St. John the Baptist. Dangerous Women features eight paintings of these two infamous women from the Ringling Museum’s permanent collection
At the end of the exhibition you will find one picture whose subject matter remains elusive. Having familiarized yourself with the stories and iconography of these two “Dangerous Women,” we give you the opportunity to join in the scholarly debate and be the judge as to who is depicted: Judith or Salome?
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