17. After Cristofano Allori
After Cristofano Allori
Giuditta con la Testa di Oloferne (Judith with the Head of Holofernes)
Oil on canvas, 147.4 x 117.1 cm
– Auction San Marco, Venice, 15 October 2006, lot 157, as Cristoforo Allori
– Private collection, the Netherlands
Cristofano Allori (1577-1621) was an Italian painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school, painting mostly portraits and religious subjects. Allori was born in Florence and received his first lessons in painting from his father, Alessandro Allori, but becoming dissatisfied with the hard anatomical drawing and cold colouring of the latter, he entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani, who was one of the leaders of the late Florentine school, which sought to unite the rich colouring of the Venetians with the Florentine attention to drawing. Allori’s most famous painting, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, became an instant success and was widely copied. According to his biographer Baldinucci, Allori painted this work in part as an autobiographical account of his love affair with Maria de Giovanni Mazzafirri, which ended badly. The figure of Judith, Baldinucci claimed, resembles ‘La Mazzafirra’, the servant in the background her mother, and the severed head of Holofernes is a portrait of the artist himself.
A comparable work, after Cristofano Allori, is part of the collection of Het Rijksmuseum (inv. no. SK-A-1). Original versions of the painting are part of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery (inv. no. 1912 n. 96) and the Royal Collection Trust (inv. no. RCIN 404989). In spring 2020, a version of the painting was part of a campaign for Louis Vuitton, by artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière.